Domino Ring Machine Tips Tiles In A Never-ending Wave

Like to see dominoes fall? [JK Brickworks] has got what you need, in the form of a never-ending ring of falling and resetting tiles.┬áLEGO pieces are the star in this assembly, which uses a circular track and moving ramp to reset tiles after they have fallen. Timed just right, it’s like watching a kinetic sculpture harmoniously generating a soliton wave as tiles fall only to be endlessly reset in time to fall again.

A Mindstorms IR sensor monitors a tile’s state for timing.

It’s true that these chunky tiles aren’t actually dominoes — not only are they made from LEGO pieces and hinged to their bases, they have a small peg to assist with the reset mechanism. [JK Brickworks] acknowledges that this does stretch the definition of “dominos”, but if you’re willing to look past that, it’s sure fun to see the whole assembly in action.

The central hub in particular is a thing of beauty. For speed control, an IR sensor monitors a single domino’s up/down state and a LEGO Mindstorms EV3 with two large motors takes care of automation.

The video does a great job of showing the whole design process, especially the refinements and tweaks, that demonstrate the truly fun part of prototyping. [JK Brickworks] suggests turning on subtitles for some added details and technical commentary, but if you’re in a hurry skip directly to 4:55 to see it in action.

Want to see more automated domino action? This domino-laying robot sets them up for you to knock down at your leisure, and this entirely different robot lays out big (and we do mean BIG) domino art displays.

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Pikul Servo Powered Falling Dominoes Pushing a Cube

Domino Row Goes With The Flow

Around here, we’re always excited about a new actuator design. Linear actuators are particularly hard to make cheap, fast, and good, so it’s even better when something new that we can build ourselves slides onto the scene.

Researchers at U Penn’s Pikul Research Group took inspiration from the cascade of falling dominoes for an innovative take on linear motion. This article on IEEE Spectrum describes the similarity of the sequential tipping-over with the peristaltic motion of biological systems, including you, swallowing right now.

The motion propagation in falling dominoes, called a Soliton Wave, can be harnessed to push an object at the front of the wave, just like a surfer. See the videos after the break for examples of simple setups that any of us could recreate with laser-cut or 3D printed parts. Maybe you won’t be using them to help a robot swallow (a terrifying idea that the article suggests), but you might need a conveyor or a novel way to help a device crawl like a shrimp. The paper is behind a paywall on IEEE, though you readers likely see enough in the videos to get started, and we can’t wait to see where your dominoes will lead us next.