Thursday, July 31, 2008

Completed sculpture #76

This is my latest project. It stands 5ft high and is 3.5ft wide on each side. A chain lift brings the balls back to the top and releases them into the 4 tracks on this sculpture. This sculpture has several fun elements. First is the Plinko Track Scrambler. 3 of the 4 tracks go into this element and the marbles mix up, taking one of the 3 tracks exiting. The fun part is watching the balls bounce around randomly before dropping off and continuing on the stainless steel paths. The loop d' loop has 7 inversions, and jumps into a basket. See the video of the sculpture here:

One of the paths goes into the Ferris Wheel Lift. The 1-3/8" marble is directed around the outside of a large 12" ring. The ring has tines that catch the marble, and allow the marble to spin the wheel. When the wheel spins there is a smaller ring on the inside that lifts 1" marbles, about 4 inches, onto their own small path. They race out and around before returning to the lift. I have only made two of these elements, this being the second one. I spent a lot of time turning this one over in my head to make sure it was built correctly. I think it came out just right. The most complicated part to making this element was getting the bearing exactly in the center of the large ring. Once that was accomplished, the rest was easier, but no less important. Building slow, is the key to building something like this. Below is a video of the Ferris Wheel Lift.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Honey Creek Radio

My Dad has started an online radio station with Live 365. He has a website: that you should visit and you'll be able to access his station from the site.

While the station is not unique -- there are hundreds of online stations broadcasting the same stuff as Honey Creek Radio -- I believe you'll experience a good musical vibe when listening to Honey Creek Radio. Music is changed every 2 to 3 days. Since January 2008 Honey Creek Radio has been listened to in over 40 countries. Some days no one listens while on other days, many tune in to listen to a great mix of Classical, Celtic, Folk, and Native American music. While we here in the USA sleep, there are people tuning into Honey Creek Radio to hear a wonderful mix of artists and albums of quiet -- and not so quiet -- Gospel Hymns.

But the really cool part, for me, is that he's made me some rolling ball commercials! It was pretty surreal when I was listening to the station the first time, and then all of the sudden a commercial for my rolling ball sculptures played... I am not sure what I felt. It was a very odd experience as I had several emotions at once. It was very, very cool. So since that time Dad has made me several commercials. Here are the two most recent:

Rolling Ball Ad 01
Rolling Ball Ad 02

Right click and save the ad to your desktop to play it. They are in mp3 format. Are you looking to have a commercial recorded? Go to his site and drop him an email. Dad, (Ed) would love to work out an awesome sounding commercial. With google adwords you can set up ads to play on the FM radio. And you'll need a commercial to do that...

I'm sure there will be more rolling ball ads, and I will post them when I get them. : )

Thanks, DAD!

Poll results

I wanted to preserve my poll results, and comment on them a bit. I wanted to preserve my last poll, but I deleted it before I knew it would be gone forever... So I am not going to make that mistake again.

My current poll asked you, the reader, to pick what type of sculpture you would like to have. You were allowed to pick more than one thing. 29 people participated in this poll. Here are the results:

Large Floor Standing - 3 votes (10%)
Wall Hanging - 14 votes (48%)
Desktop - 7 votes (24%)
Tabletop - 8 votes (27%)
Enclosed in Glass - 4 votes (13%)
With bowling balls - 2 votes (6%)
Solar powered - 10 votes (34%)
Hand powered - 2 votes (6%)
Rolling Ball Clock - 3 votes (10%)
Ceiling mounted - 6 votes (20%)
Big enough to ride on - 5 votes (17%)
Wooden - 4 votes (13%)
'Only' Loop d' loops - 0 votes
Interactive - 6 votes (20%)

I thought it interesting, but not too surprising, that the wall hanging and solar powered took the top votes. A wall hanging sculpture is a good way to have a sculpture displayed without needing to make space to display it. As for solar powered, any of you who have purchased a sculpture from me with a DC motor could easily hook it to a solar panel, for a sun powered kinetic art rolling ball sculpture.

I am not sure what the defining difference between a desktop and a tabletop sculpture. If I had to differentiate between the two, I would say that the tabletop is a small motorized rbs, whereas the desktop would be non-motorized, it's all you.

Thank you everyone who voted and I look forward to the results of my next poll...

Monday, July 21, 2008

#76 - in progress

This is my current project; #76. It is 5ft tall X 3.5ft square. 4 different tracks with a chain lift.

This is the exit following the "plinko track scrambler" There are 3 possible paths the marbles can take, each one starting with a tipping arm.

Side view

Top view

Spaghetti "S" track

Spaghetti "S" track, top view

Marbles just getting ready to exit the plinko track scrambler into one of the three waiting tipping arms, randomly.

Top and bottom sections of the loop d' loop track. 6 inversions total with a nice jump into a basket at the bottom.

This is new. Several marbles are shot at high speed up into this section of stainless steel sheet metal. If the marbles are close enough they will change positions in the "L" section at the top. Then they reverse direction and roll back out the way they rolled in and go straight into the "plinko track scrambler". The marbles have a very pleasant "free" feeling to them as they wobble around on the hard surface before joining back up with the track.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Construction of a Desktop

Building a series of desktops has been fun and rewarding. I get to finish a sculpture very quickly - which means I get to play with it sooner - and they are good practice for weaving the track in and out of the frame because of the small space given. I use 1" marbles for these smaller sculptures because the larger marble demands more space, and these just shouldn't be very large. Without the motorized lift, they will not be viewed from a distance, so a larger marble is not needed. I like the fact that I can fit in some very nice track and ball elements into such a small package. You get a track switch (splitter), spinner, 'marbles on track', loop d' loop with 4 loops, tipping arm, teeter totter and a spiral. All connected with track that uses ZERO guardrail. All of the corners are banked. I do use some guardrail for the elements, but that is a little different.
Something I have noticed is that my wire comes in two lengths. 12ft and 10ft. The 12ft wire is very springy and hard to bend, I think it is 316 stainless. The 10ft pieces however are easy to bend, and not springy at tall, leading me to believe it's 304 stainless. It doesn't make any difference, except that the 12ft stuff is harder to bend. Make sure when you buy wire that it is 304. They may give you a higher grade but are not really doing you a favor. I bend most of my track by hand, and use a couple pairs of strong needle nose pliers to get what my fingers cannot. The easier to bend the better.

The teeter totter can be problematic on any sculpture because if the marbles are spaced too closely, then while one end of the teeter is down because of the marble rolling over it, the other end is up and will allow the marble that's following to drop out. I fix this problem by having the spiral below to catch any dropping marbles, or a detour around the teeter-totter and then back on to the track.

The tipping arm can be tricky as well. If I do not add a little piece of wire that holds back extra marbles while the arm is dropping a marble from the upper track to the lower track, then the extras will just fly off over the top of the arm.

These are the steps I use to make one:
1) make frame, 1/4" round rod
2) make loop d' loop, make sure it works
3) make track splitter
4) attach loop d' loop to frame, test a little
5) attach track splitter
6) make the track that people will drop the marbles into - the one that leads directly into the splitter.
6) make track that will lead from switch to loop d' loop. All track should be made "on" the sculpture.
7) make next section of track leading from other side of track splitter, about 5 ft of track here.
8) make, then attach tipping arm
9) make teeter totter.
10) make track leading from exit of tipping arm to entrance of teeter-totter. make sure the ball picks up enough speed. Just a little will do, but it won't roll over if it's too slow.
11) attach teeter totter
12) make spiral, then eyeball where it will be, and make the entrance and exit tracks leading into and out of the spiral, OFF the sculpture. this way you can easily get to the critical weld.
13) install spiral
14) make the track that leads from the teeter-totter to the spiral.
15) make the track that leads out of the loop, that will carry the marble that exits.
16) Now make track that starts from the end of the spiral and connect it directly into the track leaving the loop d' loop.
17) make and add spinner if desired
18) bend up a speed bump for the "marbles on track" element. Make sure the marble has good speed for this element.

Add the supports and whatever else is needed as you go. Then you can easily drop in marbles to test it as you build. Adding the track supports as you go also helps keep the track in place once you find where it needs to be. It is held in place by the support, and you can keep bending.

Now final testing. Drop in lots of marbles at once to see where things go wrong, and adjust it. Clean it, and your ready to show it off!

Here's three recent desktops; #25, #24 and #19 respectively.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Desktops #21 and #22

Finally, the last of the desktops.....for now...
These two I just finished.

#22 (below)

#21 (below)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Desktop #18 Completed July 1st.

One more hot off the welding bench...
These desktops use more wire that you would think. I use at least 60ft of 1/8" wire, 5ft of 1/4" rod and 3 pivot bearings. The wire adds up quickly as it's not just used for the track, but also for support wire and guardrail.

Desktop 17

Well, here is one of four. Enjoy!