Simple Marble Machine Captivates The Eyes

Marble machines are the kind of useless mechanisms that everybody loves. Their sole purpose is to route marbles through different paths for your viewing pleasure. They can be extremely complicated contraptions, and sometimes that is the precisely the point. However, even a simple mechanism can be delightful to watch. [Denha] just uploaded his latest creation, using a spring as elevator and a simple zig-zag path.

The construction is relatively simple, a spring with the appropriate pitch for the steel balls size is used as an elevator. The spring is driven by a small electric motor via a couple of gears, and a wooden zig-zag path for the marbles lies next to the spring. The marbles go up with the spring and return in the wooden path in an endless journey.

We believe that a serious hacker should build a marble machine at least once in their life. We have posted several of them, from simple ones to other more complicated designs that require careful craftsmanship. [Denha]’s Youtube channel is full of good ideas to inspire your first project. In any case, watching a marble machine at work is quite a nice, relaxing experience.

21 thoughts on “Simple Marble Machine Captivates The Eyes

    1. Noise is part of the experience of a marble machine. Not a bug but a feature! I used to have a small one as a child with tuned metal steps that rang like a bell. Must have driven my parents mad :)

        1. Giving a kid a drum set is definitely worse. This is mild/tolerable. Probably can barely hear it from the next room. A little padding would make the wooden baffles quieter.

          1. Many, many years ago, there was a Dennis the Menace comic in which Dennis was marching around, banging on a drum that he’d just received. Mr. Wilson, the long-suffering neighbor, upon hearing that the drum was a present, gave Dennis a pocketknife as a present, and asked if Dennis knew what was inside his drum.

    2. My fiance had a similar reaction. Would you still be bothered by the noise if the motor was driving a fountain pump that fed a waterwheel that drove the machine?

    1. My thoughts exactly. With some toggling bits of wood you could make quite a complex Linear Feedback Shift Register (LFSR) or Random Number Generator (RNG).

      What’s the logic basis of LFSR? Is it XOR?

  1. Well done! Back in the good old days the Philips Evoluon science & tech museum had a huge marble machine. I used to visit there quite often as a youngster and could literally spent hours just watching the marbles travel through the machine.

  2. You guys should do a list of projects that every hacker should do at least once. A clock would definitely be on it. I think it should focus on generic projects that can be fitted to many disciplines and build styles. Like an electrically inclined person would do a marble machine with lots of sensors and complex motors, and a mechanically inclined person would machine a lot of complex mechanical items. So you wouldn’t say “Arduino clock,” just “clock,” and maybe mention a few interesting examples you’ve seen over the years, why it’s a good project, etc.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.