11 Jun 2024

My Challenge to Make a Marble Run Machine - Simplified Connecting Coil and A Windmill

I've made some improvements on my marble run. As I wrote in the previous post, there was an issue with dropping balls when one of the parts, Seven Arrows, received two balls simultaneously.

I carefully watched the Seven Arrows' movement and found that the balls' dropping position needed to be revised. The balls dropped and touched behind the arrow, so they rolled outside.


I realized there would only be a complete correction with remaking the board supporting the Seven Arrows. 

Since I still had the board's data, I widened the distance by 8mm (0.31496 inch) between the left-hand side and right-hand side arrows. I didn't have a specific reason for my widened 8mm. It was just a rough hunch, but it worked well.

The next task was to reduce the speed of the balls that rolled on a rail after they passed through the Pachinko Disk. Their speed was too fast, and some balls jumped out of the rail. I put an extra bracket in the middle of the rail just for a trial, and it worked well. However, I wanted to use something more fun to look at. Then, a windmill came to mind.

At first, I made a windmill with four blades. However, it was small, and I made a seven-blade windmill. It looked like a flower and was good. Here is the Seven-blade Windmill.

Seeing the marble run filled about 70 or 80% with various components is nice. However, there was one issue. Two elements had no connection to other parts, so I couldn't play the marble run. If I turn the handle, the balls drop from those components. Waiting until it's finished is no fun.

While wondering what to do, I found a good video, "How To Make A Marble Run Machine Spiral Coil." B-dama Friend provided the video. On the channel, there are many marble runs created with cardboard.
One of the videos shows how to make a coil using aluminium wires. It was a great idea and useful for my unfinished marble run.

I bought a 10m long aluminium wire immediately. I thought it might be too long but didn't want to run out of it later, so I bought a long one. After all, it wasn't long at all.

Making a coil was easy; I needed only a little patience. The coil was long enough to connect two components.
Finally, the marble run is available to play with. I appreciate "B-dama Friend Channel."

Since I connected the coil, I occasionally played with the marble run. Still, some balls dropped from somewhere, so I have to find out where those balls came from. Now, I need to make the upper left half to finish it. I'm almost there.

1 Jun 2024

My Challenge to Make a Marble Run Machine - Pachinko Disk & Seven Arrows

Two mechanisms have been completed this week. I've never made such progress in my work before. In fact, my husband Juno helped me a lot.

One is named Seven Arrows, and the other is Pachinko Disk. I also made rails to connect these parts to each other.

Seven Arrows is, as you can imagine by the name, seven arrows that are like rails. When they receive the ball, they bow their heads down. Once the ball goes through, their heads tilt up and the ball rolls down to the next arrow. I like the rhythm of the light movement. However, sometimes two balls come at the same time and they drop one ball, so I have to correct it.

Pachiko Disk is named after the Japanese mechanical game, Pachinko. If you don't know Pachinko, please refer to the following Wikipedia page.




There are many screws stuck on the disk. The length between those screw heads is slightly narrower than the diameter of the balls. Therefore, they prevent the balls from dropping.

There are four wooden parts on the disk. They are obstructed and let the balls bounce at various angles, or sometimes they hold balls in a slight hollow. Sometimes, the balls that were kept in a hollow were tilted and dropped underneath at once.

Actually, Juno designed the disk parts. I first designed it, but it didn't rotate often and wasn't fun to watch. So, he managed to think of a design that rotates more. I always try to think of the best design using 3D graphic software, but until I make it and experiment, it's hard to tell which design is the best. That is why it took so long for me.

These two parts were the main projects this time. However, I had to connect all of them to other rails. It took quite a time to make those rails and a dish. The work required lots of patience.

I'll show you the progress of my marble run. Here it is. As you can see, the top left half is still empty. Well, what shall I make the next?

20 May 2024

My Challenge to Make a Marble Run Machine - Honey Dipper

I added a new component to my marble run machine. I want to say that I made it, but actually, my husband made it. I just attached it to the board.
My husband named it the Honey Dipper because it looks like the head of a honey dipper. 
It's a cylinder with a spiral groove dug around it. The balls can roll inside the groove.
Making spiral grooves with a CNC router is quite challenging. I've never tried, but I gave up.
It was also challenging for my husband because he used a new part of the CNC for the first time. The result was excellent. It was done so well that it was hard to believe it was the very first time.
Here's the honey Dipper. It's hung from the bracket, so when the ball comes, it swings a little. 

Looking back on each function of the marble run machine I made, nothing looks similar. I intentionally did it because it would be fun to have various functions. Until today, I could think of design ideas, but it's getting more difficult to think of new functions. I don't want to use a similar design; if so, I have to think of something new. Then, the more I made, the more I ran out of options.

That said, this has happened before, but I've somehow managed it. I believe in my own ability to think of new ideas.
I'm sure I'll come up with something else.

12 May 2024

Simple But Fun, "Pop-Up Pirate"

I suddenly remembered a toy that I bought about ten years ago. It is a long-selling toy in Japan called "Pop-Up Pirate", the famous toy maker of Takara Tomy's products. It has been sold since 1975. It is a simple toy, yet it can be enjoyed even by adults.

The components are a pirate head, a barrel and four coloured swords in total 24. To begin with, you insert the pirate's head into the top of the barrel hole and then rotate it as you want. That is all the settings done.

Each player chooses their favourite colour sword and then inserts it into one of the narrow holes on the barrel. Each player takes a turn, sticking their sword into the barrel. The player loses if the head pops out of the barrel when the sword is stabbed.

This game is so much fun for adults and kids. In Japan, it can be used to determine who does a penalty game or if only one person cannot eat something delicious. For example, there are three pieces of cake and one cookie. You can decide in this game who cannot have a delicious cake. On such an occasion, Pop-Up Pirate would be a blast, and everybody's heart would be pounding.


Amazingly, such a simple toy can get people so excited. I also wondered how the mechanism works inside. I googled and found some videos explaining the mechanism. I was impressed to watch that. It was a simple mechanism. I respect people who can think of these things.

"Pop-Up Pirate" has all the elements I aim to make: simple mechanism, random movement, and making people have fun. For most people, this is just a toy, yet for me, it is special.


27 Apr 2024

A Tiny Eraser Crumb Cleaner

Everyone has something that they cannot get enough of.
In my case, I love mechanical things, and I cannot help watching gears and linkages. To me, there was one thing I wanted for a long time. It was an eraser crumb cleaner. I saw it somewhere in Japan long ago. Since then, I wanted it. This product is undoubtedly my favourite among the items I bought in Japan this time.
Here it is.

Going to Japan this time was the best opportunity to get it.
However, even when I was in Japan, I could not find it in shops, so I searched it on the internet. I found a lot on the internet even though I could not find any at retail shops.

It is a tiny toy-like tool made with plastic. It costs about six dollars.
As it is even that small, it is well-made, and I am impressed.

On one side of the car, there are two tiny gears. As the rear tyres rotate, the smallest gear rotates and transmits power to the larger gear. The larger gear is connected to a zigzag bar. Two tiny brooms are linked to the bar, moving back and forth as the bar rotates. The movement is smooth, and it looks fun to watch.

I am not sure who invented it. At least, I guess that I saw it more than 15 or 20 years ago. It may not be very practical, but I love the idea of it.
I can only make something with timber, so making tiny things like this car is not easy. I wonder if I could someday make a small mechanical toy like this car.