Introduction: Solarbotics Marble Machine

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The battery pack edition of the Solarbotics Marble Machine kit has a splendid electromechanical appeal, delivering 8 steel balls down a laser-cut wood frame. Unlike its solar-powered cousin, it’s ready to run at your command. With the instruction manual, assembly video, and this guide, we are confident you can build this with ease!


This Instructable adds a bit more construction detail to the original instruction manual included with the Marble Machine kit. We highly recommend having the manual with you when following this guide. If you need a digital copy, the instruction manual can be found here.


· Switched battery pack operation

· No soldering required (unlike the solar version)

· Precision laser-cut wood frame

· All electronic and structure parts included.

· Only basic tools required

Tools for assembly

· Phillips #1 screwdriver

· Wood glue or white glue

· Tweezers (optional)

· A small file or sandpaper (optional)


· Paper towel, for glue clean-up

· Note the small laser-cut glue applicator - ideal for those tight spots!

Step 1: Wooden Frame Assembly

Place the wood panels on a flat work surface, making sure that the writing on the panel is facing up for easy identification. The parts that will eventually require glue are the spiral diamond spacer, the U-shaped bottom rail, and the wiggly top rail.

Glue the spiral diamond spacer to its shadow marking on the spiral(Spiral 8). Glue the narrow “U” shape onto the shadow outline of the Larger “U” shaped bottom rail(Bot Rail 9). Finally, glue the thinner wiggly shape onto the shadow outline of the thicker wiggly shaped top rail(Top Rail 10).

Step 2: Drive Gear Assembly

Pop out the drive gear pieces (4) and assemble them as shown in the instruction manual (step 2). Piece “a” should be flush to the front, straddling the little "fingers" of the drive shaft piece “b”. The easiest way to fit the parts onto the drive shaft are to wiggle piece “a” onto the drive shaft “b”, place it on a flat surface with the drive shaft pointing into the air, and then pushing the remaining pieces “c”, “d”, “e”, and “f” down onto the drive shaft and into place.

Step 3: Gear Wheel Assembly

Use the vector drawing located in the instruction manual as a guide when assembling the gear wheel. The vector drawing in step 3 is a horizontal view of how it should be assembled. Don’t worry if the marble holes of each wheel don’t line up, they are staggered to help roll the marble out when it reaches the top of the spiral. When assembling, make sure all the wheel pieces that have the text “face up” are facing upwards so that the slope created by the staggered marble holes faces the right direction. After assembly, the gear wheel should look like the photo above.

As a note, the same method we used for assembling the drive gear can also be used here.

Step 4: Mounting the Motor

Use the two #4 screws to attach the motor to the wooden holder (1). It’s important to install it on the right side of the motor, so make sure it affixed to the side that doesn’t have the output shaft!

Step 5: Final Assembly

Now that the gear wheel, drive gear, and motor mount have been assembled, we can proceed with the final assembly of the marble machine. During each of these steps, make sure to remove any loose wooden cutouts that may remain within the pieces after you separate them from the wooden panels.

1) Remove the marble machine base (base) from the panel and insert the motor mount (1) into the slot numbered “1”.

2) Remove the inner wheel frame (2) from the panel and Insert it into the slots labeled “2” so that it sits snuggly against the motor assembly. The motor shaft should now be sitting centered within the crankshaft hole on the frame.

3) Next, remove the small “T” shaped piece (3) and insert it into the slot labeled “3”. This little piece is used to hold the battery pack in place once the marble machine is assembled.

4) Locate the Gear Wheel you assembled earlier and slot it into the center of the inner wheel frame (2). This will just hang in place until step 5 when we add the other wheel frame.

5) Take the Drive Gear you assembled previously and insert it into the crankshaft hole of the inner wheel frame (2) so that it fits snuggly onto the motor shaft. The teeth of the drive gear should be aligned with the teeth on the Gear Wheel.

6) Remove the outer wheel holder (5) from the panel and insert it into the slots labeled “5”.Both the Drive Gear and Gear Wheel should be sitting in their respective holes of the outer wheel holder so that both sides of these parts are equally supported.

7) Remove the crank handle pieces (6) from the panel and slide them onto the Drive Gear as shown in the vector drawing located in the instruction manual. You can use a little glue at this point to keep the handle together but be careful not to get any glue on the out wheel frame as it may cause the marble machine to jam and become immobile.

Step 6: Installing the Spiral

Now for the hardest part! Installing the spiral can be a bit

tricky and requires a good level of patience and care.

1) Remove the spiral frame (7) from the panel and insert it into the slots labeled “7” and “8” (glue is optional). Make sure that the Solarbotics logo is facing outwards, away from the motor.

2) Remove the spiral (8) from the panel and secure it to the spiral frame. Starting from the top of the spiral, push down, making sure each level is attached to the notches of the spiral frame. The top of the spiral should be flush to the clips and tight where the marble clip flows down. We recommend wiggling the spiral left and right (away and towards the motor) as you insert each loop into its respective notch as it will make assembly easier than just pressing downwards alone.

3) Take the bottom rail (U Shape) from the “Wooden Frame assembly” step and slot it into the groove beneath the spiral and into the hole where the marbles enter the Gear Wheel. This Glue is recommending on the out base when slotting in the bottom rail.

4) Finally, locate the top rail you glued earlier and mount it to the spiral diamond spacer and inner wheel holder so that it can guide the marbles into the spiral. Refer to the assembled marble machine on the front of the instruction manual for a visual guide of what this should look like.

Step 7: ​Testing the Marbles: You're Finished!

Once the glue dries, you can insert the marbles and manually test the operation of the marble machine by using the hand crank. If the marbles run down the spiral smoothly and then back up through the gear wheel, put in the required 2 AAA batteries and let the fun begin! After running the marble machine for a while, you may want to see if any areas need a little more glue to keep things in place.

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