Monday, October 31, 2005

Second Meeting: Rube Goldberg Machines - Toph's Take

Simplicity may be a virtue, but not in this case. :)

What I failed to make clear in my last posts is that the point of this exercise was to make a complicated Rube Goldberg machine -- which I called, for want of better words (which I have now found), a "simple machine," when in fact it is a string of simple machines (levels, pulleys, weights, ramps, and so on) put together. For an excellent example of what we were attempting, watch the amazing "Cog" Honda advert, which we showed to the contestants before they began.

In any case, I maintain that our loss was not as pathetic as Vivek made it out to be. ;-) The design was sound; we just ran out of time for fine tuning. Yes, we lost, but we put up a good fight.

Here is how the two machines worked, with steps marked.


1. A marble is dropped down a looped ramp
2. The marble knocks a ping pong ball onto a metal cart on a metal track
3. The cart rolls off the track...
4. ...down a ramp...
5. ...and onto a padded chair


While our lack of fine-tuning meant that the machine never worked from start to finish (we got the individual parts to work, and even got through a couple steps in a row), here is our design:

1. A ping pong ball is dropped down a cardboard tube
2. The ping pong ball hits half of a straightened paper on its way through the tube, which acts as a level to push a marble down a second tube
3. The ball and marble roll into two cups on a metal cart -- marble on the bottom, ping pong ball on top -- on a metal track
4. The force of impact knocks the cart back on its tracks, which pulls a weight attached to the cart by a string off the edge of a table
5. The weight falls, pulling the cart to the end of the track
6. The cart is jolted to a stop by a metal gate at the end of the track, knocking the ping pong ball out of its cup and into a tube
7. Both machines end similarly: our ball, too, rolls onto a table and off the edge

Note that we had no time for the potato gun "Ballistic Battle" mentioned in my earlier preview. It has been delayed until our third meeting.

1 comment:

Michael Firer said...

You forgot to say that the winners' ball went through a tube. Not a big deal. Just thought I'd mention it.