Rube Goldberg wall art -- needing links and suggestions!
February 28, 2016 7:05 PM   Subscribe

I've got a HUGE blank wall that is up high in my two story family room. I've had the idea to create a Rube Goldberg treatment on the wall, but I need help with specific ideas. There's a place where one can trip a trigger by launching a ball or some such on the second floor, but no way to easily maintain a mechanism that would require resetting. Help me crowd source some mechanics that will set this f*cker off!

One notion I've had is to make all the major components from wood (such as a spinning propeller) because a) my hubby is a wood worker and b) it would be more aesthetically pleasing than a bunch of slap dash elements. That said, if I could find a wooden propeller somewhere, that'd be great.
posted by wwartorff to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Although this artist works with metal, Rolling Balls Sculpture may be of interest to you. In addition to videos of the pieces in motion, there's an extensive "how-to" section.
posted by teremala at 7:40 PM on February 28, 2016

I really like the idea of it being all wood. Or if you can't do that, painted all in the same color.

Could you rig up a pulley system to get the ball to the top? Something like a very elongated water wheel with little paddles every so often. Put the ball in there and pull the cord until it reaches the top and tips out into a bucket.
posted by dawkins_7 at 9:21 PM on February 28, 2016

You might try a pneumatic tube type system to return the ball, it is probably the most forgiving method. Try building the system around a ball that fits small diameter (1 1/2") sewer pipe, that will make it easy to route your system.

Wood is a good way to go as the trial and error phase could take a lot of revisions.
posted by boilermonster at 11:13 PM on February 28, 2016

If I were doing this I would consider it imperative that the ball release mechanism be tied to a clock. Maybe you set the system up with some very slow-moving elements, such that one full traversal is equal to almost one hour (with a little fudge factor built into the return/re-release mechanism so it can stay in time) and you can tell the time by where the ball is in the course. Or, if the whole thing is over quickly you could run it hourly to chime the hour (if you do it this way, obviously the finale of each run will need to vary by depositing the ball further up a series of bells so the appropriate number of chimes sounds for the current hour.)

To me it seems slightly blasphemous to set up a Rube Goldberg machine that never gets run, which I think is what would happen in most homes if the machine requires a manual trigger.
posted by contraption at 1:00 AM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Maybe you'll find some inspiration on these sites:

Derek Hugger Kinetic Art (from this MetaFilter thread)

David C. Roy's Wood That Works (from this MetaFilter thread)
posted by amf at 7:00 AM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

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