Introduction: Rube Goldberg Machine Prototype

Nowadays, people tend to speed up daily routines and tasks, to better fit their busy daily schedule. However, isn’t it time for us to take a break for once? Why don’t we break away from our usual busy schedule, and have some leisure, while still doing our daily tasks and routine?

And in my opinion, what better way is there to do this than creating a Rube Goldberg machine?

Rube Goldberg machine was first introduced by American cartoonist Rube Goldberg, in several of his comics. Some of them include “Professor Butts and the Self-operating Napkin”.

The definition of Rube Goldberg machine reads, “a contraption, invention, device, or apparatus, that is deliberately designed and set up to perform simple tasks in a complicated fashion, and usually incorporates chain reaction.

After choosing to create a Rube Goldberg machine, choosing what the machine will do became the top priority.

When the idea to create a Rube Goldberg machine came up, I was drinking tea, thus I decided that the machine will create tea(the purpose does influence the machine, but the parts that lead up to the creation of tea is more important, so this does not matter so much).

In this instructables, I will elaborate on what steps to take when creating a Rube Goldberg machine, and the creation of my Rube Goldberg machine.

Step 1: ​Materials/tools



Pen, pencil, paper

Materials that will be needed for your machine

Step 2: Research on Existing Models

It is hard to think of ideas when trying to create something from scratch. If you have tons of ideas that can be arranged right away to create your machine, that’s great!

However, for most people, that’s not the case; lucky for us, there are tons of pre-existing models of the machines to present some ideas.

So, look up Rube Goldberg machines on google, youtube, etc, and jot down some of the ideas that you want to incorporate into your machine, but note that you cannot completely copy the pre-existing models.

Step 3: Create a Blueprint

When you gathered enough ideas, start drawing/creating your blueprint. My personal recommendation is Sketchup, a program that allows you to visualize the ideas for the machine. However, if you want to stick to the classic pen and paper blueprint, or any other method, they are also fine. So, draw or create your blueprint for the machine.

Step 4: Gathering the Materials

Traditionally, the blueprint for the machine is created, then the materials are gathered. However, for me, that doesn’t always work for me; I prefer to work on the machine, without a blueprint, so that I could have a hands-on feeling. They both have their strength and weaknesses: the former allows you to gather items quick and easy, since you know exactly what to gather. However, it could take days, weeks, even months, before the blueprint is finished, and if the blueprint is not finished, the materials cannot be gathered. On the other hand, the latter allows you to have a hands-on feeling, and can create/edit the machine as you simultaneously experiment with it. The drawback for this option is that it is not certain what materials are needed, therefore resulting in unnecessary purchase.

Step 5: Creating the Machine

Again, if you chose to create the machine as you go along, and gather the materials as you experiment with the machine, the order of steps 2, 3, and 4 can be changed to fit your preference.

If you chose to stick with the steps that I wrote in this instructables, you should be creating the actual machine by now.

Compare the machine and the blueprint as much as possible, to eliminate any errors or misplacement. Then, try out the machine to figure out which part works and which part does not. Also, edit the blueprint if the original design does not seem to work as well, or if you have a better idea.

Be warned, that creation is a painful process. You will face numerous amounts of errors and failures in your blueprint as you build it and try it out.

Step 6: Building My Rube Goldberg Machine-step 1


If you want to try to build an already made machine, you can skip the researching and the designing step. Just prepare all the materials needed, and you’ll be all set.


one 100*36 inches table

one 60*36 inches table

lots of books

1 wide and straight rail

2 less wide and straight rail

4 less wide and curved rail

7 chopsticks/sticks

1 toy car(spring-loaded)

1 roll of string

1 bottle of glue

1 flashlight

11-12 marbles

2 plastic spoons

1 spray can

1 shoeing horn

3 wooden ramps

1 paper cup

1 tape roll

1 domino box top

1 table tennis ball

3 screws

1 aluminium plate/cover

1 phone holder

1 domino box

1 rubber band

1 short pencil

1 rubics cube

lots of puzzle pieces

2 golf balls

1 pulley

2 metal stands

2 clamps

1 ceramic cup

1 cup plate

1 candle

1 metal kettle

1 teabag

boiling water

1 metal cylindrical case

2 small matchboxes/staples boxes

1 plastic rectangular box

Step 7: Building My Rube Goldberg Machine-step 2

Starting sequence

First off, start the whole machine with this step. Prepare two tables and put them so that their long sides meet together. Then, Stack some books to reach about 19.5 cm and then connect three curved rails from the top of the book stack to the table. At the end of the trail for the rails, tape down a plastic stopper(like a door stopper but very short). Then, attach a piece of string(about 15cm) to the back of the wind-up toy car. The other end of the string should be attached to the bottom part of a chopstick/stick. Then, the toy car should be wound up when you are finished with creating the machine and wish to start. The wound-up toy car should be set in place by using a chopstick/stick as a supporting beam.

Step 8: How to Create My Rube Goldberg Machine-Step 3

First sequence

Place a spray painting can and a glue bottle(If you do not have certain items that I mention, you could replace it with items that are currently available to you and is similar to the function of the item in my machine design) right behind the toy car. The glue bottle should be closer to the toy car and the spray painting can should be located directly behind the glue bottle. The distance between spray can and the glue bottle should be as long as a chopstick/stick. Place a flashlight-lightbulb downwards- on top of the glue bottle. Then, tape a chopstick on the flashlight and the spray can. Make sure the chopstick is angled downwards as it moves from the flashlight to the spray can.

Put up a book right next to the flashlight-spray can contraption. On the book, a chopstick/stick should be taped, and it should be in the exact same angle as the chopstick/stick on the flashlight-spray can contraption.

Then, two plastic spoon should be taped on each of the two new books. Place them so that they could act as catchers for the falling marbles.

When you are starting the machine, prop the chopstick/stick connected to the toy car against the chopstick/stick way that is created(the flashlight’s round head should act as the stopper for the chopstick/stick). Then, put one marble in front of the chopstick/stick that is connected to the toy car.

Step 9: How to Create My Rube Goldberg Machine-Step 4

Second sequence

The end of the second spoon should be directed further away from the machine. At the end of the second spoon, place two 3 cm cubic objects, and place a shoehorn on top of the stack. Then, tape the shoehorn to a new book, and set it so that it connects from the second plastic spoon.

The shoehorn should be connected to toy train rails(1 straight and triple-track rail and 1 curved and triple-track rail).

At the end of the train rail, a paper cup should be set sideways. The plastic cup should be connected to a chopstick/stick by taping/attaching a piece of string to the top area of the cup and the chopstick/stick. Take the cover from the domino case and use the circle on the end of the cover and the chopstick/stick to make the cover stay standing. The chopstick-domino case part should be sharply right from the paper cup.

When you are starting the machine, prop the domino case up using the chopstick/stick that is connected to the paper cup.

Step 10: How to Create My Rube Goldberg Machine-Step 5

Third sequence

Stack some books until it is 22cm high. Then, right under the top book, insert a screw so that its head is sticking out. Leave about 30cm space from the first stack of the book, and create another book stack. It should be about 18cm high. A screw should be inserted right under the top book from the new stack. Both screws should face each other and should be in a straight line. A flat book should be set on top of the two screws, and should be tilted to the left side. On the top of the flat book, place a screw, and the head of the screw should not be on the lower part. At the end of the flat book, place a table tennis ball on the top of the stack of books.

When you are starting the machine, place a roll of tape right where the domino case would fall if the supporting chopstick/stick is pulled out. Then, on the flat book, place a screw so when the book is moved upwards, the screw will roll out. Then, place a table tennis ball where the screw would end up when it starts rolling.

Step 11: How to Create My Rube Goldberg Machine-Step 6

Fourth sequence

Right under the table tennis ball, a phone holder should be located, and the aluminium cover should be put over the phone holder, creating an angle. Then, starting from the aluminium cover, a line of dominoes should be set up. The dominoes should take a left, and approach a stair-like stack of books(15cm). After going up the book stack, the dominos take a right. At the end of the domino trail, there is a small stack of dominos(4 cm) and a marble on top. In front of the stack, place the domino case, the opening downwards, and a straight 3-rail train track on top of it. Place a book or some dominos under the box to reach the height of the marble that is located in the step before this one. At the end of the train rail, put a ramp.

Place two books right and left of the ramp. Make sure that the books are the same height.

Then, place a flat book on top of the two books, to create a second story over the ramp.

When starting the machine, set up all the domino pieces, then right in front of the train track, place a marble on top of a small stack of dominos.

Step 12: How to Create My Rube Goldberg Machine-Step 7

Fifth sequence

On the flat book, place a stack of plastic squares(4cm). Then, put two chopsticks/sticks next to each other to create a way for a marble to roll. The plastic square stacks should be placed directly above the end of the ramp, and the chopsticks/sticks should head to the other end of the flat book. Make sure that the chopsticks/sticks are separated apart enough, so that a marble can slip through at the end of both chopsticks/sticks. Secure the chopsticks/sticks onto a ramp with tape. When doing this, it is better to take the piece of tape, and roll it into a strip, and then put them below the chopsticks so that the distance between chopsticks/sticks can be adjusted easily, Then, Heighten the end of the ramp that is closer to the chopsticks/sticks with some plastic squares(2.5cm).

After that, create a cross with a chopstick/stick and a pencil. The pencil must be shorter than the chopstick/stick. Use a rubberband to criss-cross tie the pencil and the chopstick/stick. Place two stacks of books left and right side of the end of the ramp in the first story, and make sure that the stacks of books are the same height. Then, tape both ends of the pencil to each of the stacks, so that the chopstick/stick part can reach the starting point for the second story part, between the two chopsticks/sticks.

When starting the machine, pull the chopstick/stick-pencil cross so that would fall in between the two chopsticks/sticks if the lower part of the cross was hit by a marble. Then, Put a marble where the top part of the cross may fall when its lower part is hit by a marble.

Step 13: How to Create My Rube Goldberg Machine-Step 8

Sixth sequence

Directly below the end of the ramp, create an angled surface, using books and the flat book as the surface. Make sure the angled surface’s lefthand side is higher than the righthand side. At the end of the angled surface(the righthand side), place a ramp against the end of the angled surface. Make sure that the end of the ramp that is closer to the second-story part should be higher than the other end. At the end of the ramp, place a connection of three train rails: first the straight 3-rail train tracks, then the curved 3-rail train tracks, then the straight 2-rail train tracks. The tracks should lead out of the table.

When you are starting the machine, place two golfballs on the 2-rail part of the tracks. Make sure that the second one is as far away from the table as it can be. The first ball should be located where the 3-rail tracks end.

Step 14: How to Create My Rube Goldberg Machine-Step 9

Final sequence

Set up two metal stands, side by side. One of the stands should be right in front of the first table(where the starting sequece is located). Put two metal clamps on the metal stands. The clamp for the metal stand that is closer to the first table should be 22cm, and the other clamps should be 50cm.

Cut out a 90cm-long string, then tape one end of the string to the bottom of the kettle.

Secure a pulley to the higher clamp, and make it face out from the table. Then, sling the string onto the pulley. Then, tape the end of that string to a plastic case/box. The plastic case/box should be exactly under the end of the train tracks.

Add water to the kettle, and test how many marbles plus one golfball could sway the kettle enough to make it pour the water.

When you are starting the machine, make sure that the plastic case/box is directly under the end of the train tracks, and that a golfball is placed at the end of that train track. Then, also make sure that there are enough marbles that the addition of a golfball would be enough weight to start the kettle to sway and pour the water. Finally, place a cup on the location where the water would fall from the kettle.

Step 15: Final Words

When you are done creating, you should start trying the machine. I can guarantee that there will be various problems: the angle is wrong, the location is off by a centimeter, there aren’t enough weight, the dominos fail, or the marbles does not slip through the two chopsticks/sticks.

Nevertheless, you should never give up and keep trying to fix the problem every single time.

It helps to have some endurance. Also, thinking about different approaches, other than adjusting the angle or the location a little, to the problematic step to solve the problem can also be very helpful, since if the step itself was prone to failure from the beginning, chances are it will still cause problems even after you adjust or fix it.

Step 16: Video of My Machine Working

I have created my own version of a Rube Goldberg machine, which is just like the one from the second part of the instruction. This is the video of the machine working.