Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Good ol' track clamps

Here's what my track clamps look like after a few years of hard everyday use. Look lower into my blog for a picture of these same clamps all sparkly and new. They still work like new, though.

Track on, clamps, track on.

Responding to "Tom's" comment. I use the "lift start" or "scratch start" since my foot-pedal is out of commission. Because if this, the arc wanders around and will end up on the clamp as I pull it away, leaving a bit of scorched track clamp behind.

#196 - current progress

Track 3 is half completed. I will b adding two spirals onto this track next.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Marble run #196 - chain lift

Here's the chain installed onto the frame. Now onto getting the ball in and off of the lift. After that, track splitters, then loop d loop.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chain lift hooks

Here's a couple hooks welded in place. I'd say I have about 15 more sets to add.

Chain lift hooks

Untrimmed pickup hooks and the chain ready to get hooks welded on to pick up the marbles.

Spiral Fail

Bent up this spiral... And it was too shallow to work well. If the ball got stopped, it would not go again by itself. Now it will end up parted out for support rods. It might make a nice campfire cooking grill... Or use the imagination.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Here's a quick video of #195 in motion. 
23" high, 22" wide, 19" deep - Three tracks

Hand-fed desktop #195 - 3 tracks

All finished. 23" high, 22" wide, 19" deep. First time making vertical zig-zag and a jump! Two firsts in one. Ill update post when I get a video up on youtube.

This is one of my favorites already. A nice shape with nice curvy, hilly main track. The collector spiral is better than my usual small "in track" spiral.

Finger operated! Choose to let one go or all of them.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Zig-Zag rbs-#195

My first time making this element. I really like it. This is in place of a tall skinny spiral.

Desktop #195

Tracks 1 and 2 finished. Now to track 3. Will just be only track, but will have lots of dips and wavy tracks. Should be fun bendng the hills and corners and watching them being shaped into life.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Awe-Mazing Mazes

I've got a book coming up titled "Awe-Mazing Mazes" that will feature all 16 of my mazes all in one book. Now that we have a good book title, we also made a new Facebook page to share all of our maze related news and pictures. Please visit our page, check out our mazes, and click LIKE to keep updated on all our maze related news.

Facebook: Awe-Mazing Mazes

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Tetter Totter with a Catch

I've made this element before: Where the ball gets caught under the teeter-totter, and the next ball that rolls across it releases the caught ball, and then in turn becomes caught, waiting for the next ball to release it. If you can't quite see what I'm trying to say here, then press play below and watch it in action on Desktop #188. This teeter-totter was built by request. And, now, here it is!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wood Ring Lift

Here's the lift for my next project. It is made from Walnut in three layers. 
This was made for me by my uncle, Gene. I am not setup for wood-work. It's best to leave something of this complexity to the professional. : )

 The drive motor assembly and the two keeper rollers at 4 and 8 o'clock positons still need to be built.
They will be integrated into the frame so it all has to be built at the same time.

It's 3-1/2 ft in diameter. The buyer, a banker, wanted the lettering to show
different "Forces" in the market. The ring will rotate, likely counter-clockwise, and in each hole hold one ball that it will release at the top. 

My last wooden ring project had a mechanism that pushed the ball out from the back. It worked well, but was kind of noisy. This time, I am going to use a "retaining wire" in back that the ball will rest against once it nears the top. The holes themselves have a 2 degree slope so the ball will want to roll out on it's own with just gravity.

More to come as this fantastic Rolling Ball Sculpture takes shape. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Header for Website...

Here's my sketch of the "font" RBS would use. I just sent this off to someone on Fiverr.com to have them draw me a header based on this scan. 
Lets see what they come back with... Finger's crossed!!

AAAnnnd, here we are!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gnome Sweet Gnome

Not very many mazes around here. Lets fix that. Here is a portion of my most recently drawn maze. This is just the bottom left, somewhat enlarged. This is also 100% not edited, and is fresh off the scanner.

I draw the picture in first. Decide where the START will be, and start drawing in the paths. As I go, I make sure I outline the picture or anything important, in paths, so the coloring in later will have clean edges, and the picture is just right.

8.5" X 11" 40# white paper. .05 Mechanical pencil, eraser shield, and wrist rest (to keep my skin off the already drawn lines so it doesn't smudge.)

Once I get done with the drawing, I scan the picture into Photoshop and my lovely wife, Jacqui, edits the maze to made sure there aren't any "orphaned" paths, and to make sure lines are connected, paths don't pinch, and everything looks just as it should.

Next, she'll use Photoshop to color in all of the cells to make it colorful, and bring out the picture. We used to use colored mechanical pencils, but they did not offer too many color choices, and zero way to change it if you didn't like what you had just colored.

So check it out: "Gnome Sweet Gnome" in the Mushroom forest. Make it to the end, and dodge the bees, lol. Knaw, don't worry, the bees are trained and are very friendly. : )

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Motorized Desktops

It seems like this size of RBS is very popular. I understand why though, with it's small size, it's easy to transport and show off, and still has all of the cool features you'd see on a larger RBS.

I started to make the helical lift diagonal for a couple of reasons. First I think it looks a lot cooler taking up so much room in the RBS, and striking a bold look by cutting across and up the entire project. It make missing the lift impossible. The other reason, less noticeable, is that it makes my job easier. With the marbles firmly riding in the keeper track alongside the spiral, a lot less of my time is taken to making sure it's exactly right so the marbles stay in juuuust right as I would have to before. Plus, as i said, it looks much cooler.

This project below is also for a photo shoot. I purposefully did not build any track in the center of the frame so the company who is receiving this can put toys inside of the tracks and shoot a promotional video. Sounds pretty cool to me. If I can get a copy of their video sent to me, I'll be sure to post it here.

I also built them some standalone parts. A 6ft long piece of gentle "S" curves. A 3ft long jump, and a 12" diameter spiral of track that has 8 revolutions to use in other shots. I'd love to see how that came out as well.

Custom rolling ball sculpture work is the name of the game around these parts!

Pinball Ramps, copying habitrails for pinball machine

Making RBS makes me uniquely suited to helping out other people with their projects. Recently I remade 5 pairs of "habitrails" for a pinball machine, or pin. The name of the machine is "Attack from Mars". In the two photos I took here, the original rail is in the center, with the copies to the outside. 100% stainless steel, and 100% hand bent. It takes me about 7 hours to make a pair. 
Starting with the "round" end. I work down to the other end, bending, checking against the original, then welding. Once finished with the rails part, I then have to make and add the other mounts. The most challenging mount is the small trapezoid sheet metal piece on the far right (below). The large ring in the center and right in both photos is a washer, bored out to 1.5" with my lathe.