Hello everyone! This is an updated version of my original inverted helix lift. It was first used in Citadel V2. I call it an industrial helix lift because the lift was designed for high reliability, to be used in a setting such as a museum or any other application that requires the lift to run long periods of time. It has many advantages over the original, such as being easier to build, an area at the bottom to prevent balls from getting stuck, and more accurate entrance and exit tracks. In the old lift, many people had problems with balls falling down through the outer spiral, but this lift fixes that. If it goes slow enough, you can make it use just one strand of tubing as well. This lift can also be extended to be higher (my highest one is 6 feet tall).
See below for the lift video, including different speeds that I tested (direct link):
Let's scroll down to begin building!
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Recruit Pieces
As usual, the first (and optional) step is counting up the pieces you'll need to build the lift.
dark grey- 29
light grey- 11
blue spacer- 30
silver spacer- 40
tan clip- 4
blue clip- 1
ball socket- 1
blue hinge- 1
black hinge- 5
gold splicer- 15
small blue/brown gear- 1
medium red gear- 1
newer-style battery-powered motor (green)*- 1
*You can use a different motor if you wish, but you'll have to modify the motor section. If making a taller lift, use a plug-in motor.
Step 2: Strands of Tubing and Speeds
Some of you may remember the first inverted helix lift, which could be made with 2 strands of tubing or 1. This one is the same. You only need two strands if you plan on making the lift faster/taller than the one in these instructions (watch the lift video in the intro step to see what it looks like at a faster speed). So, before building anything, decide on how fast you want it/how much tubing you have. I recommend you use two strands if you're building the lift for high reliability (which, as mentioned, is the main purpose of this lift). This will prevent balls from falling out if the machine gets bumped by an angry sibling. A taller lift requires two strands because the middle tower can flex from side to side, and the second strand will prevent falling balls.
To summarize, if you want your lift to be the same speed as the one in these instructions, then you really only need one strand of tubing, unless you want higher reliability. If you want it to go faster, then you'll definitely need two strands, and you'll also need two strands if making a taller lift (4 feet or higher).
Step 3: Base and Motor
Most lift instructions either begin or end with the motor section, and this one starts with it. Make sure there are batteries in the motor before installing it, or else you'll have to disassemble the base right after assembling it. You can use any type of motor here rather than the green one, and if you're building the lift higher (around 4 feet high) I'd recommend using the 12-volt plugin motor for extra strength. The fast version of the lift shown in the video uses no gears; it has the motor connected straight to the middle tower.
Step 4: Middle Tower, Part 1
This small section is rather complex, so it gets its own step. The middle tower is the part that rotates the balls up the helix. It has two stops that only allow the balls in two sides of the tower, but you could easily add 3 stops so the balls only go into one side. This might be needed for really tall lifts, such as 8 feet high, as the motor will lift less balls at a time.
In this step, you'll also finish the gearing. Like I showed in the video, you can make your lift go different speeds, and using no gears at all is a nice faster speed if you want, but you'll need two strands of tubing. The gears in these instructions will provide a good combination of slower speed and more lifting power, and you won't need a second strand of tubing, either.
Step 5: Outer Tower, Part 1
Now, you'll take a break from the middle tower and create the outer tower. If you chose to use two strands of tubing, build the lift just like it is in the pictures. If you're using only one strand, skip building the gold splicers and just have blue rods there instead (more details in the image notes). This step covers two corners of the tower. If you're making the lift higher, I recommend just making the lift as-is for now and then extending it once you get the hang of the pattern (and extending it before adding the tubing).
Step 6: Outer Tower, Part 2
As you might have noticed, the tubing goes up half a green rod for each corner of the tower. Since you just built the corners that are on the green rods, now it's time to make the ones that are in between. These will be slightly harder to build, since the spacing of the rods now matters. The orange-tabbed connectors are held in place by orange connectors below them. This step is same as the last step when it comes to the gold splicer parts: leave them out if you're using one strand of tubing.
Note: If you're making your lift higher, add onto the outer tower now before continuing to the next step. After going through the above pictures, you'll get an idea of the pattern so you can build all 4 corners as high as you want. It's easiest if you build the corners at the same time, rather than making one tall corner and letting it sway in the wind.
Step 7: Entrance Track
Being an industrial lift, the entrance track is sort of complex to prevent unwanted jams. The track is a bit off center as well, so make sure the spacers are in the right places.
Step 8: Exit Track
This exit track is a lot simpler than its entrance counterpart. You'll also finish out some of the top tower. Not much else to say here, so let us continue the venture.
Step 9: Tubing
Now it's time for the part we all dread the most: tubing! Though it doesn't have to be exact, try to make the helix nice and round all the way up. If something is a bit off there won't be a problem, unlike the early version of the inverted helix lift (this was the main problem people had with it). We'll add the bottom strand first, and then the upper strand. The upper strand is a bit more sensitive, so be sure to make the spiral wide enough to allow smooth travel. Ideally, the balls won't even touch the upper strand most the time.
You can use a longer length of tubing if you don't want to cut it, it will just stick out at the bottom. Also, if making the lift taller and out of many smaller pieces of tubing, it's easy to join one strand to the other without a splicer. See the last picture for more details.
Step 10: Middle Tower, Part 2
Okay, the worst part is over, so let's go back to the middle tower. It may be difficult to reach in between the tubing, but be patient and attach it carefully so as to not disturb the picky tubing. It doesn't like spinach, you know. Also make sure that you don't press down too hard when attaching it, and check the base when you're down to make sure it didn't break apart.
Step 11: Topping It All Off
If lifts had hats, then this would be the tophat. This section will secure the middle tower. When attaching it, make sure the middle tower fits in nicely. If it seems that the middle tower is too short, then something at the base must have come apart when you combined the middle towers. Re-examine the base and make sure everything is properly connected.
Step 12: You've Finished!
Splendid! The industrial helix lift is now finished. Place the balls in the entrance, press the motor switch downwards, and enjoy! Important: I don't recommend changing the grey rods in the tower or adding any additional rods to the red rod boxes, as the upper strand of tubing will get squished in (for example, changing the grey rods to yellow rods wouldn't be a good idea). Instead, to build supports off the tower, make the supports outside of the red rod boxes.
If you need help or have any suggestions, feel free to post a comment. Thanks for viewing, and happy building!