This Machine Has Lost Its Marbles

The astonishing variety of ways to tell the time which have appeared on these pages over the years provides a showcase of the talents and ingenuity of our community. Many clocks use designs we are familiar with, but every now and then along comes a clock that rings something new. So it is with [Ivan Miranda]’s latest work — a digital clock that shows the time with a dot matrix made of marbles. So far he’s published only part one of what will become a series. There’s technically no clock yet, but as it stands it’s enough of a marble machine to be a worthy project in its own right.

In the video below we see him solving the problems of creating free-running marble transport and handling via a conveyor belt, and solving such unexpected problems as cleanly releasing them from the belt, holding a row of marbles with a solenoid, and catching errant marbles that bounce free of the machine. The result is a rather pretty marble machine that makes an endless cascade of falling marbles on a curved track. We’re guessing that future videos will deal with the assembly of lines for the dot matrix display, such that the figures of the clock will be formed from black and white marbles, so this is a series to watch out for.

We’ve seen [Ivan]’s work in the past, not least for his giant 3D printer.

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A 3D Printed Marble Clock

There are clocks with pendulums, gears, and circuits. How about one with marbles? Initially designed in the ’70s, rolling ball clocks came in many designs and materials, but this is the future, so [gocivici] has created an Instructable to show you how you can 3D print and build your own.

Three rows of marbles keep track of the time, one for one hour intervals, one for five-minute intervals and a third for one minute intervals. It makes reading the time a bit more difficult than a pair of hands, but more fun. The clock uses the weight of the marbles to know when a row needs resetting. When the fifth marble drops onto the minute row, its weight causes the row to tilt, sending all but one marble down to the bottom of the machine. The marble that caused the tilting is sent down to the row underneath, perhaps causing a cascade of marbles down to the bottom.

There is something quite satisfying about seeing the marbles moving around in [gocivici]’s mechanical marble clock. Sure, it’s probably too loud for the nightstand, but it keeps time and looks great. In this build a stepper motor drives the main wheel which acts as an elevator, grabbing a marble from the bottom and raising it to the top to tumble down and find its position among the rows.

Of course, at Hackaday we love clocks so there have been many clock builds showcased here; all you need do is a quick search for “clock” to find some incredible designs and builds. We’ve also featured similar marble clocks.

via BoingBoing

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