Backyard Roller Coaster – Family, Physics and Fun

Coaster Dad Track Segment

This week we have been in touch with [Will Pemble], Geek Dad. After a visit to Magic Mountain in early 2013, his son [Lyle] asked “Why don’t we build our own roller coaster, Dad?”. [Will] couldn’t think of a single reason why not. This was the start of the CoasterDad Project. Excited by the challenge of building a Backyard Roller Coaster, [Will] also thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to teach [Lyle] about physics. Family, Fun, and Physics – what could be better?

The track is made from parallel PVC pipes on a lumber frame, similar to the one we saw for the Manpowered PVC Roller Coaster, but it is more varied and looks a lot sturdier. [Will] is now working on mark II of the cart made from a steel frame with skateboard wheels and has independent axles. He is planning to add a pedal mechanism with freewheel, so you can get a little extra oomph on the rises.

In [Will's] great videos you can get a front row seat on the coaster and see that even though it is fairly compact it has enough rises, troughs and turns to keep you entertained. It may not be quite as exciting as [Jon Iver's] homemade roller coaster, but when finished, the rider will be able go round and round self-propelled to their heart’s content, or till they puke, whichever comes first.  [Will] also explains the theory and practicalities behind making a strong, safe, but really fun coaster. Don’t miss the videos after the fold.

Have you made a backyard roller coaster, or are thinking about building one? Have you got any questions about [Will's] roller coaster build? He’s up for making a video to answer some of them, so please leave questions for him in the comments below. We will post the video later on.

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$50 Backyard Rollercoaster

backyard rollercoaster

This is great. What happens when you bet a group of friends they can’t build a roller coaster in their backyard for under $50? They build one.

They built it almost entirely out of old forklift pallets, some wood from Home Depot, assorted nails and screws, some caster wheels and a folding seat from an old arena. It was built in just over 9 hours by three people. Once assembled they tested it with a 15lb cinder block — safety first right? The cinder block survived the ride, and by that logic, a 160lb+ person should be fine as well!

Well… they were right! To finish it up and get into the holiday spirit they also decked it out in Christmas lights and let the neighborhood kids use it all night. The total came to $49.27 from Home Depot for the wood and wheels.

Stick around after the break to see a .GIF of it in action!

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Log coasters made with just two tools

diy-log-coaster-set

Still looking for that perfect gift? [Joel Witwer] shows us how to make a log coaster set and holder on the cheap. He figures he spent just $5 on the project and from what we can tell that all went to some polyurethane which he used to finish the wood pieces.

It started with an interesting-looking and appropriately sized log which he found on the side of the road. We’re not sure about the ins and outs of drying stock to ensure it won’t crack, but we hope he took that into account. With raw material in hand he headed over to the band saw. The cutting starts by squaring up both ends of the log while cutting it to the final length. He then cut the bottom off of the holder. What was left was set upright so that he could cut the core out of the log. This is the raw material from which each coaster is cut. A spindle sander was used to clean up all of the pieces. The last step before applying finish is to glue the bottom and sides of the holder back together.

[Joel] gave some tips in his Reddit thread. He says you should hold on tight while cutting out the slices for coasters because the round stock will want to spin. He also mentions that some of the slices aren’t as flat as they should have been, something to think about if you’re cutting these for yourself.

Manpowered PVC Rollercoaster

Swing sets and jungle gyms are good enough for your average back yard. But if you want to go extreme you need to build your own backyard roller coaster.

This impressive offering uses PVC pipe for the rails. At its tallest it stands 12 feet, using pressure treated 4×4 lumber as the supports. Pressure treated spacers span the tracks, with the uprights — which are cemented in place — in the center.

You can get a better look at it in the video after the break. This is a parent-powered system. Strap you kid in and then use a stick to push the car up to the top of the hill. We just love it that before the kart has made it back to the start the child is already screaming “again daddy”!

It doesn’t look quite as fast as the metal back yard roller coaster we saw some time ago. But we do wonder how they bent the PVC pipes and whether they’re strong enough to pass the test of time (especially being exposed to the sunlight)? [Read more...]

Roller coaster simulator for the Redbull creation contest

[Dave] and [Martin], otherwise known as Ballistic Locomotive, sent in their entry for the Redbull creation contest. It’s a roller coaster simulator that can emulate the twists, turns, and drops of a roller coaster in your living room.

The simulator is built around a plywood roller coaster car mounted on a 2 DOF table. With a few first-person roller coaster videos and the speed, roll, and tilt data provided. Ballistic Locomotive had a functioning roller coaster simulator.

Of course, watching a 1st-person shot of a roller coaster just isn’t the same experience without the wind blowing through your hair. To simulate this aspect of a roller coaster ride, so the Ballistic Locomotive team connected a relay to the bullduino and connected a carpet drying fan.

Not only did Ballistic Locomotive build something awesome with their bullduino, they also manage to make a great ride for one of the builder’s son’s birthday party this weekend. You can check out the demo and a few videos after the break.

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Color changing coaster has a built-in drink detector

[Robert] put together his own illuminated coasters that know when they hold a drink. They look fantastic, thanks to professionally produced PCBs and a layered, laser-cut acrylic case. They’re much like the pagers given to restaurant-goes who are waiting for tables, but this version is much fancier (and doesn’t include the vibrating/paging feature).

The RGB-LED board is a previous project which was developed using eight surface mount RGB LED modules around a circular board. It uses an ATmega168 paired with an MBI5168 constant-current LED sink driver. The coaster enclosure gave him room for a few more items, like the pair of AA batteries which work in conjunction with a boost converter to power the device. It also houses an IR reflectance sensor which is used to detect the presence of a drink on the coaster. This is important since an on-occupied coaster looks like it would be blindingly bright if there wasn’t a glass to diffuse the intensity of the LEDs.

He mentions that incandescent light bulbs mess with the IR reflectance sensor. But there must be some way to account for ambient conditions with the code, right?

Hybrid roller coaster concept

prius_based_roller_coaster

Toyota recently ran an ad campaign touting “Ideas for Good” in which the actors speculated uses for Toyota Synergy Drive hybrid systems in non-automotive related applications. One idea that was floated involved using the car’s regenerative braking system at an amusement park, in an effort to reclaim and use some of a roller coaster’s kinetic energy.

Toyota sent a Prius to the team over at Deeplocal, who deconstructed it and found that the car could generate 60 amps of current when braking. That’s not an insignificant number, so they decided to create a cool demonstration showing how powerful the technology is. They built a coaster car from the Prius’ guts, and positioned it at the top of an elevated platform, which was connected to a 70 foot track. In the video embedded below they push the car from the platform and down the track, using the regenerative braking system to illuminate a large display of amusement park lights.

While the video is little more than a well-produced advertisement for Toyota, we can’t help but think that it’s pretty cool. It’s doubtful that we will suddenly see an inrush of hybrid-based roller coasters any time soon, but the concept is interesting nonetheless.

[via Notcot]

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