Beat This Mario Block Like It Owes You Money

People trying to replicate their favorite items and gadgets from video games is nothing new, and with desktop 3D printing now at affordable prices, we’re seeing more of these types of projects than ever. At the risk of painting with too broad a stroke, most of these projects seem to revolve around weaponry; be it a mystic sword or a cobbled together plasma rifle, it seems most gamers want to hold the same piece of gear in the physical world that they do in the digital one.

But [Jonathan Whalen] walks a different path. When provided with the power to manifest physical objects, he decided to recreate the iconic “Question Block” from the Mario franchise. But not content to just have a big yellow cube sitting idly on his desk, he decided to make it functional. While you probably shouldn’t smash your head into the thing, if you give it a good knock it will launch gold coins into the air. Unfortunately you have to provide the gold coins yourself, at least until we get that whole alchemy thing figured out.

Printing the block itself is straightforward enough. It’s simply a 145 mm yellow cube, with indents on the side to accept the question mark printed in white and glued in. A neat enough piece of decoration perhaps, but not exactly a hack.

The real magic is on the inside. An Arduino Nano and a vibration sensor are used to detect when things start to get rough, which then sets the stepper motor into motion. Through an ingenious printed rack and pinion arrangement, a rubber band is pulled back and then released. When loaded with $1 US gold coins, all you need to do is jostle the cube around to cause a coin to shoot out of the top.

If this project has got you interested in the world of 3D printed props from the world of entertainment, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

13 thoughts on “Beat This Mario Block Like It Owes You Money

    1. Another fun fact, in super mario world (SNES), yoshi made an appearance as a character that mario could ride.
      This let the player make yoshi grab enemies and other sprites to eat or sometimes hold in yoshis mouth to be spat out as a projectile weapon.

      The “spit” animation clearly shows mario punching yoshi in the back of his head to perform this action.
      The start of that animation sequence even showed mario winding up to make the punch, and yoshi looking backwards in fear of what is about to come.

      Mario using his fists to solve his level woes does have quite a long history.

  1. That’s awesome.
    Now for some silly suggestions:
    Needs to play the coin box hit sound and dead Mario sound when empty.
    Larger dispenser to handle gold foil covered chocolate coins.
    Magazine loading would be nice addition for larger quantities.
    WiFi or some other interface to actuate camera so can see who pigs out on precious chocolate coin stash.

      1. Good to know those are noisy. Suspected they are. Saw the little uni on Amazon dirty cheap for half dozen with driver boards but never got around to hitting buy. Would u say is more or less noisy then chinamart sg-90 servo?

  2. Very cool!

    I built something similar after completing Super Mario Odyssey. While mine isn’t as cool as this one (seriously, I like the attention to detail, and how the 3D printed model has all the right spacing for holes to attach components and all, good job Jon!), I decided to add sounds instead of dispose coins.

    If anyone would like to see how I built mine, you can check it out here:

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