Lithium--A Mini Ball Machine




About: I am currently a Jazz Studies major at NIU. I am a working pianist, and on my spare time I build ball machines out of K'Nex (when I'm not on campus).
This is my first Instructable. It shows how to build a ball machine. This one is relatively large--I think it has more pieces than any of the other ball machines on these forums. It is insanely difficult, and may require usage of certain pieces you may need multiples of.

But if you have 1,610 pieces, and want a challenge, then I give you...LITHIUM!

(sorry, I can't get the video up.)

Parts you will need:
146 green rods
116 white rods
303 blue rods
151 yellow rods
46 red rods
32 gray rods
1 black rod
7 flexi rods
4 tan connectors
94 dark gray connectors
1 blue hinge
2 green hinges
12 light gray connectors
37 orange connectors
72 red connectors
21 green connectors
118 yellow connectors
15 white connectors
162 purple 3D connectors
98 blue 3D connectors
38 orange track connectors
4 red gears
8 blue spacers
12 silver spacers
13 black Y connectors
1 square panel
94 chain links
1 motor
Total: 1,610

...and one ferret (Just kidding!)

Step 1: Step 1: the Base

This may be the most boring part of the machine to build, but isn't too difficult. I have included pictures for you to see so you know where and what should be positioned.

Parts needed:
12 green rods
15 white rods
82 blue rods
32 yellow rods
2 red rods
1 black rod
4 tan locks
20 dark gray connectors
6 orange connectors
9 red connectors
2 green connectors
15 yellow connectors
3 white connectors
48 purple connectors
39 blue connectors
2 red gears
4 blue spacers
2 silver spacers
1 PowerPack motor
Total: 294

Step 2: Step 2: the Support Tower (middle Section)

This is the rest of the tower (minus the top), for which I have also included images from all angles.

The order of pics--Front, Back, what you should have so far.

Notice some of the spots on each side!

What pieces you need:
4 green rods
1 white rod
84 blue rods
42 yellow rods
1 dark gray connector
1 red connector
2 yellow connectors
48 purple connectors
26 blue connectors
2 black Y connectors
Total: 211

Step 3: Step 3: the Top

This is the top of the tower. Obviously there isn't much to it, but I hope the picture shows you the info you need.

What you need:
11 green rods
4 white rods
38 blue rods
9 yellow rods
2 red rods
6 dark gray connectors
3 red connectors
2 green connectors
7 yellow connectors
20 purple connectors
10 blue connectors
2 red gears
4 blue spacers
1 square panel
Total: 119

Step 4: Step 4: the Other Supports

These supports are relatively convoluted to show, especially since a couple of them didn't load, but I'll tell you how it should work (hope I get through to you what to do).

Pictures 1 and 2 show the first attachments.

You will need (for those):
3 blue rods
4 yellow rods
8 red rods
4 gray rods
1 dark gray connector
10 purple connectors
1 blue connector
Total: 31

Note: for the second cubelet, on the left side, the gray rod should be replaced by a yellow connector connecting 3 yellow rods to the machine, and the side above should be a white connector with a blue rod connected to a red connector on the upper part, can look at the picture to get an idea as to how that part should be built.

This is the very top. The overview image, I believe, shows a more detailed description of how these sub-supports should be built.

Pieces for the rest of the supports minus the rails in the last pic (a rough guess):
1 green rod
4 blue rods
12 yellow rods
22 red rods
10 gray rods
1 red connector
4 yellow connectors
1 white connector
16 purple connectors
Total: 71

Again, I apologize if those are inaccurate, I couldn't get a good picture of the rest of the supports.

Step 5: Step 5: Path 1, Part 1

This is probably the easiest part of the path. Here, the ball comes off the path separator and onto here. It only requires one pic to show you the whole thing.

Parts needed:
2 green rods
5 blue rods
6 yellow rods
1 red rod
3 light gray connectors
3 green connectors
1 yellow connector
4 purple connectors
1 blue connector
Total: 26

Step 6: Step 6: Path 1 Part 2

Another easy part, but you need to look at the pics to know how to build it correctly.

You need:
8 blue rods
6 orange track connectors
2 black Y connectors
Total: 16

Step 7: Step 7: Path 1 Part 3

The longest part of this path, although very minimal effort is needed.

Parts needed:
5 green rods
26 white rods
5 blue rods
16 yellow rods
3 gray rods
24 dark gray connectors
3 orange connectors
19 red connectors
11 yellow connectors
9 white connectors
Total: 121

BTW: remember the blue rod sticking out with the red connector there and the Y connector on the blue 3D connector? In the first picture, the yellow boxed area is where you connect it to that (loop the dark gray connector onto it--sorry there's no pic).

Step 8: Step 8: Path 1, Part 3

This is the final part, the part you may or may not have been waiting for--the half loop all the way back into the track in step 1. There are a lot of pictures, because it can be hard to mount correctly without enough assistance.

Parts needed:
9 green rods
33 white rods
26 blue rods
15 yellow rods
9 red rods
5 gray rods
2 dark gray connectors
4 light gray connectors
1 orange connector
3 red connectors
12 green connectors
1 yellow connector
32 orange track connectors
13 purple connectors
8 blue connectors
2 silver spacers
Total: 165

Step 9: Step 9: Path 2, Part 1

Finally, we've finished the grueling part of path 1. Are you ready for more grueling stuff?

This part, again, is fairly simple.

Parts needed:
5 green rods
10 white rods
3 blue rods
8 yellow rods
8 dark gray connectors
2 orange connectors
2 red connectors
9 yellow connectors
2 white connectors
4 blue connectors
Total: 55

Step 10: Step 10: Path 2, Part 3

Yes, I'm skipping ahead to part 3 now, so it will be easier to attach part 2 when it's done.

These are the rails I didn't have you attach during step 4.

You will need:
8 green rods
4 blue rods
3 red rods
3 gray rods
3 dark gray connectors
2 orange connectors
5 red connectors
1 green connector
2 yellow connectors
3 blue connectors
7 black Y connectors
Total: 41

Step 11: Step 11: Path 2, Part 2

And NOW, we get to build the part that relied on the previous rails being built first.

You will need:
5 green rods
2 white rods
2 blue rods
1 yellow rod
3 gray rods
1 dark gray connector
1 blue hinge
1 green/black hinge
2 orange connectors
2 red connectors
3 blue connectors
4 black Y connectors
Total: 27

Step 12: Step 12: Path 2, Part 4

Okay, another short and easy part. Enjoy it while it IS easy...

Parts needed:
5 green rods
8 white rods
3 blue rods
4 gray rods
4 dark gray connectors
2 orange connectors
4 red connectors
1 green connector
5 yellow connectors
2 purple connectors
2 blue connectors

Step 13: Step 13: Path 2, Part 5

Aye, the final part of this machine--or the positioning of the last, most difficult, and most grueling part. I will post chunks of it in individual steps, and then show you how to connect them.

Are you ready to build this thing, which uses:
69 green rods
12 white rods
21 blue rods
6 yellow rods
3 red rods
7 green/purple/periwinkle/fluorescent yellow flexi rods
1 green/black hinge piece
11 dark gray connectors
4 orange connectors
24 red connectors
65 yellow connectors
1 purple connector
1 blue connector
Total: 223

Step 14: Step 14: Path 2, Part 5A

The first part of it, which uses:
10 green rods
5 blue rods
3 yellow rods
2 red rods
1 orange connector
4 red connectors
12 yellow connectors
Total: 37

It should be placed where you see it, just below the previous track. Note where it says.

Step 15: Step 15: Path 2, Part 5B

The second part, which connects directly to the first, and only needs one place to be mounted.

It uses:
34 green rods
7 white rods
9 blue rods
3 yellow rods
1 red rod
5 flexi rods
8 dark gray connectors
1 orange connector
13 red connectors
32 yellow connectors
1 purple connector
1 blue connector
Total: 115

Step 16: Step 16: Path 2, Part 5C

Okay, let's finish this grueling track already. The final curve that leads back to the beginning of the machine.

You will need:
18 green rods
5 white rods
7 blue rods
2 flexi rods
1 green hinge
3 dark gray connectors
2 orange connectors
8 red connectors
21 yellow connectors
Total: 67

YAY! We've finished both paths. Now what? Onward we go!

Step 17: Step 17: the Chain

Finally, we're on the last two things for the machine. First, the chain. Start by making 4 sets of 19 chain links, and a ball grabber at the start of each one. Next, make a fifth, with only 18 links, and attach a fifth grabber in the same place you would the others. Connect them together into one long chain, and string it over the top gears. Connect it all once they're all over the other gear.

What you will need:
10 green rods
5 white rods
5 blue rods
10 dark gray connectors
15 orange connectors
5 light gray connectors
10 silver spacers
94 chain links
Total: 154

And now, there's just one more thing to do. Can you guess what it is?

Step 18: Adding the Balls

You can use up to six balls here. Four fit on the base track, and two on the chain.

Step 19: Troubleshooting

These are any questions you may want answers to.

Q: The chain bounces around. What's going on?
A: Sometimes the weight of a K'Nex ball may make it simulate bouncing around. This should not in any way affect the balls journey through the machine.

Q: The ball falls off the track at Path 1 just before the loop! What shall I do?
A: There is never a time you can't add guard rails to objects. If you place the red connector (remember that?) above the gray connector, this shouldn't be an issue. If it's below, you may want guard rails at certain parts.

Q: Can you post instructions for Dynamo or your pinball machine?
A: NO! Do not PM me asking to make instructions for anything I build that has more than 2000 pieces.



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    175 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    For the yellow tracks... can i just use yellows seperates by green rods and for the loop can i use purple flexible rods?

    1 reply

    Yellow path: If you mean steps 13-16, then yes, that's primarily what I used. I should point out, though, that the way you support the rest of the path would have to be changed. Loop: It's very hard to make it without tubing, because: 1) Tubing is a lot smoother than just using yellow connectors 2) The connectors you attach to the rods are going to make the path rougher and the balls will lose speed a lot more quickly.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    can u use rippen rocket tubing and rr crossties cuz i don't have dat yellow connetor with teh thing on teh top?

    9 replies

    If you mean on the loop, you'd need to reconfigure the supports, but it's probably something that can be worked out (I have yet to try it myself, though).

    You'd also need to cut the tubing into three pieces; the speed drops a lot when there's no middle rail.

    Not yet.  I probably never will either, since K'Nex is dying a slow death for me, and I'm only building on weekends when I'm not at college.

    Again, try it out yourself.  I'm sure you can come up with a configuration that works just by using a bit of trial and error.

    well ummmmmm u can make a loop with crossties but i kant do it cuz how da ball machine is shaped wrong oh well

    If you don't already have RR tubing, yes.  If you do, just cut one of the strands into three pieces and string them over.

    But yeah, the speed plummets when you don't have the middle rail there.

    oh thx 4 teh tip man. i will tri it out after my latest coaster:)

    p.s ur a great knex builder. also do u no where i can buy old knex sets???????????

    Thanks, and you can find the older sets on eBay, Craigslist, Amazon, and sometimes garage sales if you're lucky.

    The KNex WeaselJesus.

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    You can, but you might need to cut it to fit the track (or so the added weight of extra tubing doesn't tip the thing over).