Wire Projects

I started my own project a few years ago, but I only have a few prototype track segments to show for it. I wrote up my construction techniques for the rolling-ball list. I spend too much time thinking about how to build things and not enough time actually building them! Here are some pieces I've actually built:

Horizonal Alternator

Some people call these flip-flops. A device which alternates between two output paths. This horizontal one either drops the ball straight down (on the right side) or allows it to roll straight through. Each action reverses the mechanism so that the next ball takes the other path. As shown (sitting flat) the next ball would drop down and rotate the interior mechanism clockwise:


Vertical Alternator

Balls falling into the top hit the switch at the bottom and get diverted down one of the two output channels. On the way out they flip the switch so that the next ball takes the opposite channel. The wires which direct the ball are too long in this picture, but I have since managed to trim them to prevent jams with two balls in quick succession.


My plan for a desktop sized track is to start the ball manually by dropping it into a wire funnel.

This first one is pretty ugly. I was having a terrible time trying to get copper hot enough to melt solder once I reached a certain density of wire in the piece (it's a very good heatsink!). I actually completed it after I got my micro torch. The design flaw with this is that the ball can actually slip out at the very top of the funnel.

I made another one based on a simpler concept. There are 8 wires, and the bearings are 5/8", so the circumference of the upper opening is 5". I just tweaked my new slip bender until it took a 5" wire and made a circle out of it.

The Frame

I made a 2'x1.5'x1.5' frame out of type L 1/2" copper tubing. It's really sturdy. It is supposed to be filled with copper tracks, but so far that isn't happening...

Other Stuff

vertical U turn
The ball drops and reverses direction. My prototype is soldered into my ungainly collection of early copper and steel prototypes...
straight and curved track
Three wires in a U shape. No top wire is necessary except where the ball needs to trip a switch and has to be constrained so it can't jump.

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