Throughout their long history, American Machine and Foundry (AMF) have made forays into many areas of automation. And as the American cultural landscape of the 1950s and ’60s shifted toward fast, cheap, and convenient foodstuffs available for consumption inside of spacious, finned automobiles, AMF was there with AMFare, an (almost) completely automated system for taking orders, preparing food, and calculating bills.
AMF named the system “ORBIS” after its two main functions, ordering and billing. But ORBIS was not completely autonomous. A human operator received orders from a table-side telephones inside the restaurant and intercoms used by drive-in customers, and entered them on an enormous console. Orders were routed to several machines to prepare the food, cook it, and package it in various ways. We witness the odyssey of the burger in complete detail, from punching out perfect patties to their final, plastic-wrapped form.
Surprisingly, the AMFare selection wasn’t limited to delicious burgers, fries, and milkshakes. It could crank out sixteen different menu items, and do so pretty quickly. In the space of one hour, AMFare could produce more than 400 burgers, over 350 orders of fries, or about 700 milkshakes. Even so, collating the orders required human intervention. We imagine that the awful task of cleaning all that expensive Rube Goldberg-esque machinery did, too.
Continue reading “Retrotechtacular: Automatic For The People”
The greatest – and last – question that will ever be asked is, “How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased”. It follows then, that the worst – and possibly first – question ever asked is, “How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively increased?” While for the former question there’s insufficient data for a meaningful answer, we’ve found the answer to the latter question. It’s a machine designed to waste energy, and the exact opposite of a perpetual motion machine.
The machine is set up along two stories of a building, with cables, pulleys, and levers constantly pressing an elevator button. The device is powered by the elevator doors opening, so when the elevator opens of the first floor, the part of the machine on the second story calls the elevator. This repeats ad infinitum.
Wait. It gets better. Inside the elevator car, there’s a modified printing calculator also powered by the elevator doors. Every time the doors open, it calculates the amount of energy consumed for each cycle of the elevator. It’s a hydraulic elevator without a countersink, so moving down is effectively free, but each cycle of the elevator still uses up 11.8 Kilojoules of the universe’s energy. To make the build a complete waste of resources, the printing calculator neatly empties it’s printed tape into a wastepaper bin.
We’re tempted to call this a [Rube Goldberg] machine, but that doesn’t seem to fit this machine that does absolutely nothing. Calling it a useless box is more fitting, but this is far, far more impressive than a box that turns itself off. Whatever it is, you can see a video of it in action below.
Continue reading “How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively increased?”
The round-about way this iPhone garage door opener was put together borders on Rube Goldberg. But it does indeed get the job done so who are we to judge? Plus you have to consider that the Apple products aren’t quite as hacker friendly as, say, Android phones — so this may have been the easiest non-Jailbreak way.
The main components that went into it are the iPhone, a Wemo WiFi outlet, and a 110V rated mechanical relay. But wait, surely it can’t be that simple? You’re correct, just for added subterfuge [Tall-drinks] rolled IFTTT into the mix.
You may remember hearing about If This Then That from the Alert Tube project. It’s a web-based natural language scripting service. Throw everything together and it works like this: The iPhone sends a text message which IFTTT converts to a Wemo command. A power cord connects the Wemo outlet to the 110V electrodes on the relay. The normally open connection of the relay is attached to the same screw terminals of the garage door opener as the push button that operates it. When the relay closes, the garage door goes up or down.
The biggest problem we have with this is the inability to know if your garage door is open or closed.
Here’s a portable, well-built Oreo separator that still manages to border on ridiculous. Instead of just ditching the creme filling, it dispenses the cookie and the creme separately. Ostensibly the two creators like different things. One enjoys the cookies while the other only likes the creme. Of this division was born the professional-looking snack divider.
Unlike the hatchet-based system shown off in the first episode this machine has a hopper into which several Oreos may be loaded. The demo cookie is like none we’ve seen before because the top portion is pushed off as if it took no effort at all. The creme is then softened with a stream of hot air before the gooey creme is blasted into the other creators face. Some of it may even have entered his mouth. The final step ejects the remaining chocolate cookie by launching it straight up into the air.
Our favorite part of the video after the break is the “DO NOT ATTEMPT” subtitle that flashes on the screen whenever the apparatus is launching food into the guys’ mouths.
Continue reading “Oreo separators Episode 2 chucks food at your face”
The image to the left doesn’t make this look like much, but inside of the cardboard vending machine lives a clever Rube-Goldberg device. The video after the break gives a look at the inner workings to show how a quarter manages to dispense a full can of Coke. But that’s about all the detail we get on the project.
There are two sets of counterweights used in the design. Some marbles, and what look like giant pinballs. The coin chute, located on the left side of the venting machine, funnels the money into the waiting marble. When the marble rolls off it lands on a spoon. The weight rotates the spoon-filled disk and causes one of the waiting pinballs to drop from their rack. As that metal ball falls it operates a ratcheting system to dispense just one can. It looks like the capacity of the machine is limited to two refreshing cans of sugary liquid, but that could be scaled up if more room were made for cans and counterweights alike.
Continue reading “Rube-Goldberg provides liquid refreshment”
Yep, those are just some shipping containers being used as dominoes in this very impressive Rube Goldberg machine. The apparatus includes a human element, with freerunners making their way through a whole bunch of obstacles. In fact, if you look closely you’ll see the outline of a man who just jumped from the top of each container to get to the ground. The project is a marketing device for Red Bull, who must have shelled out quite a bit for the setup. We’ve embedded the video after the break where you’ll see they went all out with the filming of the device.
To tell you the truth we kind of wish that a Rube-Goldberg build had been the goal of this year’s Redbull Creation Contest. It would have been all but impossible to go this big, but some of the stages (like a suspended bath tub slowly draining its reservoir of water) would have been easy to make happen. Well, there’s always next year!
Continue reading “Rube Goldeberg mixes in Freerunning; reminds us of human-sized game of Mouse Trap”
This kiosk was conceived as an interactive poster to help raise donations for a German relief organization. Instead of just providing a coin jar, the piece puts on a little show of transporting a two-Euro coin from the slot at the top to the repository in the base. Along the way many of the parts move, telling a story in that Rube Goldberg sort of way.
What is surprising to us is how much this looks like one of our own projects — at least up to the point that the display is painted. The link above shows off some pictures from the development stages. The prototype shapes up on an oddly shaped scrap of plywood with the coin’s path plotted out. After the particulars of a trip from point A to point B were established the empty spaces were filled in to add visual interest. If you take a gander at the back of the plywood you get an eyeful of protoboard and draped wires. A camera, Mac Mini, and Dropbox were included in the mix to share an image of the donor on the group’s Facebook page (with the donor’s consent of course).
The piece had a month-long home in the Hamburg airport earlier this year. See what that looked like in the video clip after the break.
Continue reading “Coin-based Rube Goldberg helps bring in donations”