Intro: The Official Guide to Knex Ball Machine Lifts
This guide will include all of the ball machine lifts that have been built. In each step is a short description of the lift, a credit to the builder, and links to instructions/videos. If a lift includes at least one picture it'll either be added into an existing step or made into a new step. If a lift includes no pictures, but only a video, it will be added to the second to last step, titled "Lifts Without Pictures". This is to make the guide official, instead of only including lifts with pictures.
If you want your lift added or know of another lift to be added, just post a comment below with links/pictures. Please have good quality pictures, not ones that are blurry, fuzzy, dark, etc. Every builder is credited to their lift, usually with a hyperlink to their profile, but if you don't want your lift on this guide due to copyright reasons, just tell me and I'll take it off of the guide.
Please tell me if you have any suggestions or feedback for this guide. I hope you find it useful!
This guide started out with only 10 steps, but now it has over 70! The search bar below allows you to search steps by title, just in case you can't find a lift within the huge mass of steps. Thanks to Sorunome for programming it. :-)
For building parts of ball machines other than lifts, here are some more official guides:
Building ball machines (by RNB, Tornado96, and Shadowman39)
Elements (by Knextreme)
Path separators (by mathsboy314)
Step 1: Chain Lift
This lift has been around since ball machines began because of the Big Ball Factory. It's an easy lift to build, and doesn't require much pieces. You just don't want the chain too loose or too tight. Adjusting the chain is simple; just add another set of gears somewhere on the back of the tower. Refer to the third picture for an example of that.
If you're wondering what Disco Track is, it's my younger brother's ball machine (he's also a Knexer, his name on 'Ibles is Jag56).
Step 2: Micro Chain Lift
Step 3: Chain Path Lift
This lift combines a chain lift with a chain path element. The base is the same as a normal chain lift, and it still goes up vertically. The difference is that the claw that holds the ball doesn't have anything to push it out when it gets to the top. The chain is run along the top, and the ball rolls across it like a chain path. The ball then falls into a basket when it gets to the end. Watch a video of it right here.
Most of the pictures below show it in Cataclysm during the construction.
Step 4: Alternative Chain Lift
This lift was invented and built by floris2burn. This is a lot like a vertical chain lift, except it can go diagonal or horizontal. It also has a different ball claw. The unique thing about it is that the gears can be connected to the tower differently, allowing the ball claw to pass through the middle of the gears (picture 6 shows this). He used it in his ball machine, Cyclo. Click here for the instructions!
Another version of this lift was built by www139 for his ball machine, Impossible (picture 7). His version went up diagonally but it can go other directions as well. The claw isn't made in such a way that it can change direction like the last version though. Here is the video, and here are the instructions!
Step 5: Semi-Circle Lift
Step 6: Chainsaw Lift
This lift uses chain, which is on a track leading diagonally upward. I call it the chainsaw lift because the things sticking out of the chain that pick up the balls make it look like a chainsaw. This was featured in Cataclysm; pictures are below.
A similar lift was also in Loopy, built by I_am_Canadian (last picture).
Step 7: Inverted Chainsaw Lift
This is similar to the regular chainsaw lift, except the ball is pushed along a track, with the chain on the top! Sorunome built this lift, which has pictures below. Notice that the ball touches the ground at the bottom.
Step 8: Vertical Chainsaw Lift
Step 9: Ultimate Chainsaw Lift
Step 10: Stair Lift
I first used this small lift in Wipe Out. The steps go up and down, all at different heights. You can make it higher with more steps, but I wouldn't go over 5-6 steps. If you need it higher than that, you'll have to use more than one motor.
If you want to build it, here's the Instructable.
Step 11: Stair-Arm Lift
This lift is similar to a stair lift, except it uses arms instead of platforms. Since they don't slide on rods, there isn't as much friction, so this stair lift can be made much taller than the original stair lift. It also slants 45° (the old one slants half as much), so it can be made taller in a shorter amount of space. The arms do take up more room though. If it uses an odd number of arms (like the version in Citadel), one of the arms needs a counterweight, shown in picture 3.
Currently, this lift is in my ball machine Citadel, which is still under construction. Click here for the update video that shows this lift working. I am going to make instructions of this lift, but until then the pictures above are from Citadel's construction album.
Step 12: Double Helix Lift
This lift was also used in Wipe Out. The helices are made out of tubing, so the ball's ride up the lift is pretty smooth. I wouldn't make it too high because the double helix will become wiggly.
Click here for the instructions!
Step 13: Single Helix Lift
Also known as spiral lifts, these are similar to my double helix lift, except they only have one spiral instead of two. There was a Knex set that used a spiral lift in it, and the instructions are here. The video is here.
KageKumo used a diagonal spiral lift in his ball machine, and the video is here.
Above are pictures of my double helix lift, changed into a single helix lift. Thanks to Sorunome for the pictures. Also included are pictures of a tilted helix lift, built by mathsboy314. His helix is basically a helix from Trampoline Tower. The last pictures 4-6 show it, and here is a video.
Tornado96 made a slightly different helix lift in his ball machine Uprising (picture 7). The helix part was built to be stronger.
Step 14: Inverted Helix Lift
This is similar to the helix lift, except it's inverted (it's also known as inverted double helix lift). Instead of the helix spinning in the center, the tower spins in the center, with the helix outside. This lift is much more efficient than the traditional single/double helix lift, because it can be made taller, since the tower in the middle is stronger than a helix. And, it's more fun to watch because the balls spin around as they go up. :-) The tower in the center of mine had two sides for balls, but I could have made it a quadruple helix lift since it has 4 sides. Here are the instructions!
This lift was featured in Cataclysm, and there are pictures of it above (pictures 5-10).
Also, it's possible to use twice as less tubing/orange-tabbed connectors if you only build the bottom strand of tubing and leave out the top strand. Pictures 11-12 below show this version. The one in picture 11 was built by Sorunome, and the one in picture 12 was built by Koolcoasterkid (this picture is only the top view). Click here for more information about this method, since there are a few things you'll have to modify.
Here is a video of this lift:
Step 15: Tower Helix Lift
Step 16: Shredder Lift
Step 17: Hopper Lift
Built by Mr. Muggle, this is a lift that can be extended. It uses arms that turn around, and a curved track that the ball rolls on. All of the arms are connected with chain, and they move in the same direction. Mr. Muggle's version is in pictures 1-3.
Another version of the hopper lift was built by www139, with the name of Spinning Push Lift (picture 4). His version is smaller and uses one arm. He used this lift in his ball machine Impossible. Here are the instructions, and here is the video.
Step 18: Singular Arm Lift
This lift was built by Purple Waffles. It is similar to the hopper lift, because it has one arm that lifts the ball up a curved track. A counterweight on the other end helps it lift the ball. A picture is below.
Step 19: Motorized Madness Circle Lift
Step 20: Rotating Arm Lift
There are many versions of rotating arm lifts that people have built. This step will go through many of the different versions.
The most basic rotating arm lifts use a carrier at the end of rotating arms to lift balls up. An example would be the version in Picture 1, built by sandroknexmaster. This version doesn't use track at the bottom; instead it picks balls up from the floor directly. Instructions of this lift are located here. Another example of a basic rotating arm lift is one made by collinjo12, what he calls a modified arm lift. The instructions are here, and his lift is Picture 2. Below is a video of Sandro's lift.
Another type of rotating arm lift was built by MechanicalCreationMaster (it's also called Freefall Wheel Lift) in Krypton. It uses a thin arm to lift balls up a curved track, and when the ball gets high enough it goes toward the center of the arm. Then some track makes it lift up higher. These arms have no carriers like the more basic versions, but it causes the movement of the arm to be choppy at times. Picture 3 shows this lift.
There is another version similar to MCM's lift, built by sandroknexmaster for his ball machine Paradox (4th picture). Below is the video of Sandro's lift, and here are the instructions!
The lift in picture 5 is another version by sandroknexmaster, a version that's larger and has 8 arms. The carriers are also different, which level out wherever they are on the wheel, hence the name that he called it, ferris wheel lift. This was first used in Elysium. Here are the instructions and the video!
Next we have another version by sandroknexmaster, a sliding arm lift (picture 6), first introduced in Elysium. This lift uses an arm that slides, so it only goes out the bottom until it reaches the top. After the ball is released the arm slides back down. This lift is useful if you need to save some space, as the arm doesn't take as much rotating space as a regular arm. Here is the video, and here are the instructions!
Picture 7 shows a version built by www139, which is very similar to the first lift in this step, the floor arm lift. It uses a gate at the beginning to make sure the balls don't fall out of the loading area. He built this lift for his ball machine Impossible. Here's the video and instructions.
Step 21: Large Rotating Arm Lift
This one was featured in Wipe Out. It's a big arm that spins around and around. Before the balls get to go up in it, they wait at a rotating gate which turns at the exact same speed as the arm. This helps to not have lots of balls crowded at the bottom where the arm picks them up.
I don't have much good pictures of this lift. The best place to see this lift is in Wipe Out's video.
smool also made a rotating arm lift in his ball machine, SmooL. Click here for the instructions on his lift! It's a lot like mine, with a similar gate system. It uses less pieces than mine and has a different way of dispensing the balls at the top.
Step 22: Quadruple Rotating Arm Lift
These lifts are similar to normal rotating arm lifts, but they use 4 arms instead of 2.
The earliest version of this lift type was built by I_am_Canadian. It has four arms that each pick up balls, and carriers similar to standard rotating arm lifts. You can stack them up to make the lift higher. This lift is one of the earliest custom lifts built.
Thanks to IaC for the instructions, pictures, and video. Pictures 1-3 show his lift.
A later version of this lift was built by Kairah, and featured in Metropolis. This is an example of several arm lifts stacked onto each other, and they use chain to connect them to one motor. Pictures 4-7 show his lift. Here are the instructions!
Step 23: Wheel Lift
There are many wheel lifts, and the first version built was a small one first featured in Cataclysm (pictures below). Click here to see a video of it. Sorunome made instructions of it here (it is slightly different from the original; see Picture 3). When you build a wheel lift, you'll need to pay attention to the entrance. Either make a gate that lets the balls in slowly enough or make the balls load in from the side. Go to the next step for an example of balls loading into the side.
Mr. Muggle built one in his ball machine, Shake (Picture 4). Instructions for that ball machine, including the lift, are here.
There's also one in KageKumo's ball machine. There aren't pictures, but the video is here. This is an example of many wheels stacked on top of each other.
Coaster105 used a rather large wheel lift in his ball machine. The video is here.
toeti built one (picture 5) in his ball machine Nemesis. The instructions are here.
Another example is shown in Picture 6, built by sandroknexmaster. Here are the instructions of his version.
Step 24: Small Wheel Lift
This lift is very similar to the one I used in Cataclysm, except it's shorter than two red rods in diameter (instead it's at most 3 blue rods in diameter). I built the first version of this lift in my unfinished ball machine. Pictures 7 and 8 show it at an earlier point in the ball machine's construction.
Picture 9 shows a lift built by Sorunome, which classifies as a small wheel lift. This was in his ball machine Dystopia, which was built after my first version of the small wheel lift. It's different than the original though, since it doesn't use tubing and the wheel is built differently. The instructions can be found here.
In Citadel, I rebuilt this lift and improved it, like making it not use tubing, and making the wheel look better. There are 3 stacked up, and they use flexi-rods covered in blue spacers (silver spacers would also work). I don't have a video of these yet, since the ball machine is still under construction. Pictures 1-6 above are from Citadel's construction album (pictures 4-6 show the lift section before it was added to the ball machine).
Step 25: Tiny Wheel Lift
First featured in Citadel, this lift is the smallest a wheel lift can get, so small that it doesn't really resemble a wheel. It uses these small wheels and has them stacked up. The larger wheel lifts use a track with two rods/strands of tubing, but this one uses one. With the way I have it built it uses two medium yellow gears, so it isn't very ideal to make it very tall unless you use chain or different gearing. This lift is best when it's a red rod to two red rods tall, and it fits in small spaces nicely.
Currently, this lift is in my ball machine Citadel, which is still under construction. Click here for the update video that shows this lift working. The picture above is from Citadel's construction album.
Step 26: Wheel Lift With Holes
This is another lift used in Wipe Out. It's a wheel where the balls load in holes in the side. As it turns, balls enter in one side and leave on the other side when they get to the top. The trick of the balls leaving at the top is that the wheel is tilted. The ball can also exit if the hole the ball is in has tilted track to make it leave at the top.
Again, I don't have much pictures of this lift, since it was taken with my old camera.
Another small wheel lift which uses a similar method is the one used in wanny's ball machine, Davinch. Watch the video here.
Sorunome built one of these also (picture 3), and made instructions. Here's the video.
Picture 4 shows sathothy's wheel lift, built with micro pieces. It was featured in his ball machine, Armageddon.
KneXtreme built a wheel lift that is thinner, and a piece at the top pushes the balls out, shown in picture 5. Here are instructions!
Shown in picture 6 is a version by NorthernF, which is tilted onto a platform. This version is small and simple if you'd like to quickly add a lift somewhere.
Step 27: Large Wheel Lift With Holes
This lift is similar to the lift in the previous step, except it's bigger. Sorunome made instructions for the lift pictured below.
Step 28: Ring Lift
This is a lift that was featured in Cataclysm. It is a wheel, without a center, thus calling it the ring lift. It takes up less room than a normal wheel lift, since it has no center. It has to be secured into a strong tower structure for it to run as smoothly as mine did. Chain runs around the outside and grips the wheel, and a motor at the bottom turns the chain.
Below are pictures of the ring lift used in Cataclysm. The ring is pretty thin, as you can see in the fifth picture. Picture 8 shows where the balls enter, and the picture after shows where they exit.
Sorunome recreated this lift from Cataclysm's video, and made instructions! The last picture shows it.
Step 29: Spiral Wheel Lift
This lift was built by bezempje95. It's a wheel that turns, and a spiral track is on the inside. The balls go up until they reach the center, where they exit the wheel. There are pictures below, but no instructions/video.
There is another version of a spiral wheel lift, made by KneXtreme (starting at the 5th picture). It's smaller than bezempje's and uses regular tubing track instead of roller coaster track. Click here for the video and here for the instructions!
Step 30: Revolving Ball Machine Lift
Built by mathsboy314, this lift was originally built in the form of a revolving ball machine, but can also be used as a lift or element. It uses a large wheel with elements inside of it. There are many different possibilities with this lift. Click here for the video of the lift version and here for instructions.
Step 31: Mouse Wheel Lift
Step 32: Spinning Freefall Lift
Built by sandroknexmaster, this lift rotates like an arm, but it's a freefall also. So, when the ball gets to the top, it freefalls to the bottom and is lifted up again on the other side of the freefall. A gate is used at the bottom to allow only one ball to go through the entrance. The instructions are here.
Step 33: Large Arm Lift
This is a lift featured in Cataclysm. Instead of it rotating around, it goes up and down. There's a CyberKnex motor on the arm's tip, and it's lifted by reeling in fishing line. The ball pushes a button on the tip of the arm in order for this to happen. When the ball leaves at the top, it pushes switches (including another motor) to reset everything. This lift uses a lot of pieces, but it's worth it. The last two pictures show the gate at the bottom that lets one ball in at a time.
See Cataclysm's video to see it finished! The video below shows it finished, but without the gate at the bottom.
Step 34: Quarter Arm Lift
There is a different version of a quarter arm lift made by Palslayers. Here is the video of his version.
Step 35: Parallel Arm Lift
This lift was originally built in my unfinished ball machine (skip to 4:47 on the video to see the lift). It uses arms that are parallel, and they are connected in the back. Balls roll down the arm into a claw, and, when the arms get to the top, the ball goes through a flap in the bottom of the next arm. My version didn't work very well, since there was a lot of strain when it was fully loaded with balls. It was also pretty slow.
Sorunome rebuilt it from the video and modified it to make instructions, shown in picture 6.
Step 36: Counter Parallel Arm Lift
This lift was built by sandroknexmaster, and was first featured in his ball machine Euphoria.The arms are similar to a regular parallel arm lift, but there are two sides of arms instead of one. A crank at the top alternates both sides (when one is up, the other is down). Here are the instructions, and the video is below.
Step 37: Connected Arm Lift
Step 38: Crossing Arm Lift
Step 39: Falling Arm Lift
Step 40: Shifting Arm Lift
The video is embedded below.
Sorunome built a shifting arm lift for his ball machine, Apocalypse, shown in picture 5. His version is 8 arms tall. Picture 6 shows one built by koolcoasterkid, which is 6 arms tall. These two versions had to be modified in different ways to make them work, more information on that can be found here.
Step 41: Multiple Arm Lift
Step 42: Right-Handed Arm Lift
Step 43: Small Returning Arm Lift
Step 44: Jigsaw Lift
This lift was originally invented by bezempje95, but he deleted his account and instructions; Sorunome decided to post his version, so now there are instruction again. With this lift there is a shaft, tilted diagonally, which has something in the middle that goes up and down in a circular motion. The part in the middle has "spikes" on it, that grip the balls and take them up a level. There is also a counterweight. Pictures 1-6 above show Sorunome's version (5 and 6 show the lift in Apocalypse), and pictures 7-9 show bezempje95's. Click here for the instructions!
Step 45: Vertical Jigsaw Lift
This lift was invented by Tornado96 as a prototype. I built upon his original idea and made the exit track and motor connection for my ball machine, Citadel. There is also a counterweight to assist the motor in moving the jigsaw part up. The 6th picture shows the original lift in Citadel. Click here for instructions and more info!
Below is the video.
Step 46: Double Jigsaw Lift
Step 47: Ladder Lift
Step 48: Mill Lift
These are two different lifts invented and built by Kairah and floris2burn (the original inventor of this lift). They are both similar to each other, which is why they're both called mill lifts. Floris2burn's uses wheels that have two spokes sticking out to lift up the ball up a diagonal slope. Kairah's is made of wheels with 4 spokes, and the advantage it has over the other is that it can go diagonal, horizontal, and vertical, or even upside down. It's also smaller than floris2burn's. He also made a second version, which is built into a tower. It works 100%, and goes much faster! Watch the video down below. More balls can be added to it, but the more balls it lifts at a time the more strength it needs.
Click here for instructions of floris2burn's mill lift!
The first 4 pictures were taken by foris2burn of his lift. You can find the video here.
Here's the video of Kairah's mill lift:
Here's Kairah's second version of his mill lift:
Step 49: Wheel/Mill Lift
Step 50: Twin Elevator Lift
Right now Citadel is in construction, so the pictures above are from the construction album. (Pictures 1-11)
In addition to my elevator lift, there is also a similar version built by dickheijboer. It uses the same concept of a twin elevator lift, but it is less refined than mine, so it isn't as smooth. The transmission box is at the top, and uses bits on the chain to switch direction. This is a nice lift to use as an alternative to mine if you don't have very many pieces, as this one uses less pieces. It also has a nice speed and runs pretty smoothly. Between choosing which twin elevator lift to build, the one I made has a more refined system, as well as taking 4 balls up at a time instead of 3. But, if you need to save pieces and build a simpler version, you can build this one, as it still works nicely. This lift was first featured in dickheijboer's ball machine Intertwined, and the instructions for the lift are here. The pictures of his lift begin at Pic. 12, and the video is below.
Step 51: Elevator Lift
Step 52: Elevator Free-fall Lift
Step 53: Wheeled Crankshaft Lift
Step 54: Pump Lift
Here are the instructions!
Step 55: Stacker Lift
This lift was built by bezempje95. It is similar to a pump lift because it stacks balls on top of each other in a chute. But, there is a wheel at the bottom that lifts balls one by one, so it's much more simple. There is also a rod that keeps the balls from falling back down. Here is a video. Also, he built a ball machine using this lift, called Gravity.
Step 56: Big Air Ball Tower Lift
This is the air motor and tube lift from the Knex set Big Air Ball Tower. It only works with the newer balls, and it requires two balls in order to lift one ball through the tube. This is one of the fastest Knex lifts, as far as how long it takes for a ball to reach from bottom to top. Thanks to Sorunome for taking pictures of this lift.
Step 57: Tube Claw Lift
This lift was built by sandroknexmaster, first used in his ball machine Elysium. This is a compact and complex lift that uses two alternating sets of claws that go up and down to transfer the ball to the next level. If you plan on building it, keep in mind that it lifts one ball at a time and it's quite a complicated build. Below is the video, and here are the instructions!
Step 58: Scissor Lift
Step 59: Door Lift
Step 60: Push Lift
Step 61: Stepper Lift
This lift was in a Knex set. There are two sides which move up and down, and the ball is switched back and forth between the two sides as it goes up. A video is right here (not my video).
I haven't built this lift yet, so I don't have any of my own pictures. Thanks to I_am_Canadian for the pictures, which are of his ball machine, Twister.
Instructions are right here. This is a step within an Instructable for Retrograde (designed by MarsCrystalMan and instructions made by knexpert#10829476.
Step 62: Up and Down Lift
Step 63: Modified Stepper Lift
This was originally built in Unfinished Knex ball machine. You can see this in the 5th picture.
Here are the instructions! Below is the video.
There is a different version of this lift, made by Thibaultisthebest. collinjo12 made instructions here. His version uses less pieces than mine, but its movement is pretty choppy. The last picture shows his lift.
Step 64: Modified Chain Stepper Lift
Step 65: Alternating Arm Lift
Step 66: Alternator Lift
In this lift, there's a tower in the middle that goes up and down (the lifter). Grabbers on the lifter grab the balls and lift them to the top. Ball holders keep the balls from going back down. A crank turned by a motor makes the lifter go up and down. The balls alternate from one side to the other, which is why I called it the alternator lift.
This lift is featured in Cataclysm. The last few pictures show it.
Click here for the instructions!
Here's the video:
Step 67: Slider Lift
Built by mathsboy314, this lift is similar to the alternator lift, except it's tilted and uses less pieces. A crank makes a sliding platform go up and down, and balls get stopped by small arms in the tower. It can be modified to go higher easily, but keep in mind that it gets more choppy under the load of a lot of balls. Here is the Instructable!
Step 68: Vertical Slider Lift
Built by NorthenF, this lift is similar to a slider lift except it goes vertically. The ball holders are also spaced closer together.
Step 69: Rollerball Lift
This lift is made of a roller coaster car and track, and the car has a bucket that holds the ball. The ball falls in the bucket and is lifted up the chain lift on the lift hill.
This was first used in RCManiac31's ball machine, Mission to Mars.
Mr. Muggle recreated the lift section (pictures below) and used it in his ball machine, Power Tower.
Step 70: Micro Rollerball Lift
Step 71: Car Lift
This lift was built by therealkeggore (also known as Keggore) in this ball machine. Balls are carried by cars, which go around a continuous track, and part of it slopes up so the cars can get to the top. The ball gets out of the car by the cart it's in being tipped over. The cars are able to go back down much faster.
KneXtreme also made instructions of this lift in his ball machine, Lithium (pictures below). The lift in the instructions is slightly modified from the original.
Step 72: Hammer Lift
Step 73: Kick Lift
Step 74: Ball Launcher
This lift launches the ball with the use of two wheels. The motors, battery pack, switch, and wheels were taken out of a Rippin' Rocket power booster. Silver spacers are placed around the edge of the wheels, and they're taped over with a layer of clear tape and electrical tape. Rubber bands on the outside of the wheels add grip and power.
I pictured earlier designs, and the newest ones. Picture 8 shows a track system that didn't work very well, but I improved it by making the track lead straight up (pictures 4-6). Picture 3 shows a close-up of the switch.
Step 75: Micro Ball Launcher
Step 76: Launching Arm Lift
This lift is was built by Austron. You can find the blog post here. This lift is a bit similar to the hammer lift, except the arm that launches the ball doesn't go all the way around. The arm's power comes from a rubber band. There is a series of gears that makes everything be powered by one motor, including a small arm that deposits the balls into the launching chute. Below are pictures. The video can be found at the link to his blog post above.
Step 77: Ball Launcher/Shooter
Step 78: Jump Lift
Step 79: Jump Arm Lift
Step 80: Lifts Without Pictures
This step covers the lifts that don't have pictures. It's just a list of each lift, with a link to the video along with who built/invented it. Some of the videos will be videos of whole ball machines, so I've made the link start at the time that the lift appears.
Wheel launching lift, by Floris Cockaerts
Counter-spin lift, by DymonLord
Crankavator, by ALocke
New knex ball machine lift, by 95martb
Cardan gear lift, by Austron
Car back-roll lift, by Thibault Art
Step 81: The End
Well, that's the end of the guide. If you looked through all of the steps, then congrats! That must have taken a while. Again, I'll be updating this guide whenever people build new lifts.
Comment if you have any feedback or suggestions!
Thanks for viewing!