After 2 days of hard work, the ball machine finally makes a complete loop. This track contains an estimated 65-70 feet by itself, and takes half a minute for a ball to traverse. By now, the machine contains about 7,000 pieces and runs 7 balls simultaneously, though the current design could support up to 20. I have ordered 220 more pieces online and plan to begin construction on track 2 when the arrive. Multiple tracks will be constructed by placing 2 lift hills side-by-side and having the balls alternate which path they take without the use of switches. At least 1 additional path is planned, more paths will be added if I have enough pieces.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
With the frame structurally sound, I was able to build about 20 feet of test track today, and it works quite well. This may very well not be the final design, but it gives me a good idea of how building from a k'nex ceiling will work. Here is a video of the current track.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Since this new ball machine will span my entire ceiling unsupported, it requires a massive, multi-thousand piece support structure. The current frame consists of 3 beams making a total of 6 spans, supported by 5 towers around my room. There are also some design tests for the knex "ceiling" which will fill in the gaps between bridges. I have also built some test track coming off the lift hill (not shown.)
Strong winds yesterday blew the wheel against the side of my house, destroying the base and buckling the top half of the wheel. Repairs at this point are no longer worth my time and effort, so the wheel is coming down. The good news, however, is that construction on my ball machine can resume. More updates soon.
Monday, May 11, 2009
I will be taking down the Ferris Wheel this week to build my next large project, another large and presently untitled ball machine similar to my Subatomic Paraball. If all goes as planned, this ball machine will be larger, longer and taller than my last, though the main lift is only 4 feet tall. The main superstructure will consist of about 6 large supporting towers which reach my ceiling, all connected by a network of strong bridges. A wall of k'nex will then be built to fill in the gaps between the bridges. The result: A completely free standing k'nex ceiling. The ball machine will twist and loop through the holes in the ceiling on fewer, but much longer paths. Rather than fast short tracks designed to get the ball to the ground, these paths will be slow and twisting, winding around the ceiling until they reach the bottom of the lift. The lift has already been constructed and I will resume building the ball machine when I tear down the wheel.