Friday, April 24, 2009

World's Largest K'nex Ferris Wheel - Video

The weather was not as bad as predicted, so I was able to film the wheel today. Here is the finished video, with information and original music.

For a higher quality video click here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wind Storm

This week has been nothing but high winds, and even with 3 additional wires holding the wheel in place, a gust of wind still managed to do some serious damage, by which I mean, it ripped 3/4 of the wheel right off the axle. The parts that came off were crushed under their own weight, as they are only structurally sound when the wheel makes a complete circle. 18 cars were damaged as well, and about 100 pieces were broken. After a few days of tedious work, the wheel is completely rebuilt, though the cars are not yet attached so it remains untested. The winds are still blowing strong so construction is slow going. To make matters worse, the forecast is for rain over the next 4 days. I still plan to film it, but I am not sure when I will be able to.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The World's Largest K'nex Ferris Wheel - Finished!

After 5 hours of work today, the World's Largest K'nex Ferris Wheel is finally complete! The structure stands 13 feet tall, 12 feet wide and now has 32 gondolas. It is powered by a variable speed 12v DC motor and supported by a single 1/4 inch steel axle. The wheel revolves at about 1 RPM and contains over 6000 pieces. The entire structure, including the base and wheels, contains somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 pieces. The construction went more smoothly than I ever imagined, meeting nearly every design goal without the need for any major redesign/reconstruction. Videos coming soon.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ferris Wheel Gets New Motor

The K'nex DC motor is experiencing noticeable wear. The gears are beginning to get worn down from repeated grinding and the motor is losing power from being run under heavy load for several hours per day. So today I bought a 12v geared motor which has an axle perfect for K'nex gears. The motor is connected to a variable speed/direction adapter and powers the ferris wheel easily, hardly straining at all. This new power system should prove much more reliable as the rest of the carts are added.

World's Largest K'nex Ferris Wheel Becomes World's Fastest!

Today I decided to hook up a 1300 RPM power drill to the driving rod of the ferris wheel to see what it could do. The results are quite impressive! The outer rim of the wheel reached speeds of nearly 20 MPH at the fastest, ripping some gondolas right off the wheel. This will most likely not become a permanent power source though.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

World's Largest K'nex Ferris Wheel - 8 Gondolas

Now that the wheel is completed and the drive system perfected, I can spend time constructing the 32 gondolas which will ride the wheel. So far I am up to 8, and have them evenly distributed around the wheel, as the wheel's drive system is extremely sensitive to slight changes in balance. Construction could not be going any more smoothly and I will probably be finished within the week.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

World's Largest K'nex Ferris Wheel - Motorized!

I spent all afternoon working on various designs, and finally settled on something that works reliably! Here is a POV video of a camera riding in a gondola.

(for a higher quality video, click here )

Monday, April 13, 2009

The World's Largest K'nex...well, Wheel anyway

After an entire afternoon of non stop work, the wheel is not only repaired, it is finished! The structure has reached its 13 foot final height and full 12 foot diameter all the way around. There is just a bit more tweaking to be done on the wheel's design before it is ready to be connected to the motor. Due to the recent wind-aided collapse, the tower has been fastened to the deck by 2 cable stays to prevent it from falling over. Eventually the base will be widened to further increase stability. The recent addition of the steel axle allows the wheel to turn freely and smoothly, so powering it should not be a problem. The motor should be hooked up by tomorrow or Wednesday, though it will still take some time to construct and attach the 32 gondolas, which by themselves contain a total of 2,400 pieces.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Sometimes the wind can be extremely annoying.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ferris Wheel Gets New Axle

I've been worrying about how I would power this wheel since I started construction, so today I bought a 4 foot long 1/4 inch steel rod and swapped the k'nex axle with the steel one. The wheel is now completely supported by this axle and the little rollers which previously supported the wheel's massive weight are obsolete. This means I will be able to stretch a chain around the 37 foot circumference and power it with the k'nex 9v motor extremely easily. This should greatly decrease the time it will take to finish the wheel.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ferris Wheel Reaches Minimum Diameter of 8 Feet

Today, thanks to the help of Stephen Walker, the Ferris Wheel now has a minimum diameter of 8 feet after the completion of the third layer, which contains the fifth and sixth supporting rings as well as the third layer of horizontal crossbeams. This new layer brings the height of the structure to 10.5 feet and completion of the wheel is well within sight. However, construction may be delayed due to an ever worsening K'nex piece shortage. Except for lowering piece supplies, construction is going remarkably smoothly and rapidly. Now that the weekend is here, I will have more free time to build, so the wheel should really take shape over the next few days.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ferris Wheel Over Half Finished

One supporting tower is now finished, and the other is nearing completion. On the wheel, I have switched from building the 128 spokes one at a time to building all of the spokes simultaneously one layer at a time. While still only 3/8 of the wheel are at the full 12 foot diameter, the entire wheel now has a minimum diameter of 6 feet, which makes it a tie for the largest K'nex Ferris Wheel. The wheel now rises nearly 9 feet high and is growing rapidly. The structure of the wheel should be finished by this weekend, assuming I do not run out of pieces. I have decided to build the rest of the wheel using this method because now I can make sure the 10 supporting rings which circle the wheel will be exactly the right length to make a complete circle at their designated radius. So far, 4 out of 10 supporting rings have been made into complete circles. For the rest of the wheel I simply guessed on how long to make the segments of the rings which connect the 128 spokes, which is why the spokes to the lower right and left of the completed section of the wheel appear to be bent. As each layer is completed, I modify the lengths of the supporting rings to straighten the spokes.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Wheel construction 3/8ths done, towers half done.

Work on the wheel is progressing relatively smoothly, though certain parts have had to be redesigned several times. Because the wheel at this point contains over 2000 pieces and would easily snap the axle if it were freestanding, the rims of the wheel also rest on 4 wheels positioned at the bottom of the support towers for added support. However, as the wheel nears completion I will probably need to add additional wheels, as well as a wider base as the wheel will need to be moved outside soon.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

World's Largest K'nex Ferris Wheel - Construction Begins

Today I have started construction on what will be, to my knowledge, the largest K'nex Ferris Wheel ever built, measuring 13 feet high and 12 feet in diameter. The wheel alone will use over 6500 pieces and will be so massive that no axle will be able to support its weight (this may become a problem later on). When complete, the wheel, supports, 32 gondolas and drive system will use approximately 12,000-15,000 pieces. The wheel will have 128 spokes attached to 16 white rods stacked on the axle.