Modular Marble Machine #4: Base Plates

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Blog entry by William posted 04-12-2013 01:46 AM 2145 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: The Base Part 4 of Modular Marble Machine series Part 5: The Crank »

Yesterday I built the base. Inside the base there will be plates with holes in a grid patterns. With this grid of holes on these plates, it will be possible to place marbles in the holes, place pieces with holes in the bottom of them on top of the marbles, locking things together so nothing moves. It is with this type of system upon which everything else will be possible to build.

First thing today I had to place corner pieces and a tab on the inside of the front for the plates to sit on.

Next I built the feed ramp. This is just an angled ramp that feeds into the top of the marble pump. When building different scenarios with the building block like pieces, the end paths will have to always end feed into the marble feed ramp in the center.

Then pieces of plywood are cut to fit on each side of the feed ramp.
I used plywood here for flatness. Anything other than flat here will cause problems later as the pieces are built up in height.

I had to test all the marbles. The marbles are supposed to be five eighths an inch in diameter. However, not all the marbles are the exact correct size. So, to weed out the larger, misshaped, and otherwise unusable marbles, you test them. I drill a five eighths inch hole through a piece of wood. If a marble fits, even snugly like you see in this photo, then it will work in the machine without causing problems.

Here is an example of a marble that is unusable. It is too large to fit through the hole. Therefore, it will be too large for the machine parts and will hang up in places, causing inevitable jams.

With the marbles tested, and the bad ones weeded out, that gave me my first opportunity to truly test the whole feed and pump assembly as a complete unit. So far, everything seems to be working as it should.

Then for those holes I talked about earlier. Using light pencil lines that can be sanded off later, I marked off a grid for the holes. Then I bored them deep enough into the plates that a marble will sit just a hair over halfway down in the hole. The roughly half of the marble that will stick above the plate will interlock with parts that will go on top of this.


8 comments so far

View DIYaholic's profile


19596 posts in 2639 days

#1 posted 04-12-2013 02:10 AM

Nice progress.

The interlocking is kinda like Legos for marbles.
Anxiously awaiting to see the “modular” pieces!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2578 days

#2 posted 04-12-2013 02:12 AM

William you got it coming together ,that is a lot of holes there ,great pics and instruction too ,thats a lot of folgers coffee there

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2806 days

#3 posted 04-12-2013 02:17 AM

Thanks ya’ll.
Yes Randy, it’s a similar idea to legos. It’ll lock things together nicely, but still allow pieces to be arranged differently if need be without the marbles. The arrangment of the pieces on this will be limited only by one’s imagination.
Eddie, I use coffee containers for everything under the sun. I’ve built up enough that I keep extras stored up. I’m in the process now of switching to the plastic ones like you see in some of the photos. The metal ones I have from a long time ago are starting to rust. I go through about three to four large containers of coffee a month.


View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3267 days

#4 posted 04-12-2013 03:24 AM

well now we know where all the caffeine is…you might be worth something dead william…lol…..this is really looking cool…so are you doing any pens at all, or are you focused on this…..

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3298 days

#5 posted 04-12-2013 10:15 AM

Looks like a mean machine William.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2806 days

#6 posted 04-12-2013 12:03 PM

Thank you Stefang. It’s a neat design that will look better once it all comes together.

Grizz, my intention was to do glueups on pens while I take breaks and such so I’d have blanks ready to go when I finish this project. However, I’ve been having pain issues a lot and my break times have involved nothing but sitting on my butt and griping at myself for not sitting down and taking a break sooner. So no, I haven’t done any pens.
The good news on that front is, I do have more pen kits. I ordered more of the slimline pen kits. They are cheap enough for me to continue to learn with. I’m sticking with the cheap kits until I am confident enough in my techniques and abilities in that area for anything more expensive. I seen some pens in the projects sectsion by Roger with the bullet bodies and bolt action click assembly though that sure make me think twice about spending my light bill money on pen kits.


View Roger's profile


20923 posts in 2768 days

#7 posted 04-12-2013 12:36 PM

Oh, man…..... If I only had half the marbles that you have here William, I’d be in good shape. This build is comin along nicely

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2806 days

#8 posted 04-12-2013 12:48 PM

Thank you Roger.
It’s coming along, slowly but surely.


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