Kinestrata, a fully mechanical marble machine

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Forum topic by Derek Hugger posted 01-15-2013 09:30 AM 2684 views 1 time favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Derek Hugger

41 posts in 2197 days

01-15-2013 09:30 AM

Topic tags/keywords: marble machine run mechanical mechanism derek hugger ball


I thought I’d share my first marble machine project with this forum. I’ve wanted to build a marble machine for a few years now, and first decided to search the web for plans. I was a little disappointed with what I found: not much. For the most part, the designs I found online didn’t look very professional and weren’t pieces I’d be excited to show friends and family. So, I decided to design my own. Over the course of about 400 hours, I designed it and built it. My machine is fully mechanical, weight/escapement driven, has four unique tracks, contains 390 parts, and will run for about one minute with each pull of the wind cord. It’s also compact, with a profile slightly less than an 11×17 inch sheet of paper, and a thickness of about 5 inches. I’ve named her, “Kinestrata,” whose roots translate to “motion layers.” The construction is mostly 1/8, 1/4, and 3/8 inch baltic birch ply, with some tapped aluminum tubes, brass tubes, and stainless steel rods and fasteners. My goal with this was to make it so that even a beginner (with some time and patience) could build it. I will have plans available for it soon. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the design.

Here’s a link to my video:


12 replies so far

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3476 days

#1 posted 01-15-2013 01:36 PM

Wow, that’s impressive. Rube Goldberg would be proud of you… Thanks for sharing!

-- Hal, Tennessee

View johnstoneb's profile


3072 posts in 2411 days

#2 posted 01-15-2013 01:52 PM

That is fantastic. Is it possible to make it run longer maybe open up the case under the weight and put a longer cord on the weight?

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2293 days

#3 posted 01-15-2013 03:56 PM


-- Joel

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3089 days

#4 posted 01-15-2013 04:18 PM

This is a wonderful candidate for your project page, dhugger.

Marbles are a wonderful trigger for creativity—mine was electric, five feet high and peppered with found objects. All because of a few innocent marbles, and you’ve taken that to a whole new level from what I’ve seen.

One note to Hal: It’s common to refer to such a machine as a Rube Goldberg, but in fact his creations accomplished work—put toast in the toaster or opened a door or something like that. Quite different from a machine that does a lot of stuff, delights the senses, but doesn’t accomplish a kinetic task.

You asked for comments on the design, dhugger, and I have a hard time coming up with anything better than the above: Awesome.

I am asking myself how many times I’ve seen someone’s first project qualify as a masterpiece, and I think this is number 1.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3382 days

#5 posted 01-15-2013 04:25 PM

Wow. Please let us know when you’ve finished your plans; I’d love to try to make one of these (and another for my neighbour, who loves clockwork!). Will you sell kits that include the hardware components, too?

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Derek Hugger

41 posts in 2197 days

#6 posted 01-15-2013 11:24 PM

Bruce, yes, that is certainly possible. The weight drops at roughly 9 in/min, so depending on how high you hang the machine on the wall, you could significantly lengthen run time. In fact, that’s actually what I did when I was calculating how much weight the system needed. I hung a jar from a longer cord that extended past the bottom of the machine and slowly loaded it up with BBs. When the escapement gave me a strong, healthy tick, I knew I had the right amount of weight. The reason I didn’t put the weight on a longer cord in the end was because I wanted to keep everything contained in the 11×17x5 inch envelope.

Elizabeth, for the time being, I will only be selling the plans. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to the equipment needed to make selling kits cost effective.

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3382 days

#7 posted 01-15-2013 11:30 PM

Will your plans list the suppliers that you used to get the parts? Or did you have various parts on hand already?

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Derek Hugger

41 posts in 2197 days

#8 posted 01-15-2013 11:44 PM

Elizabeth, the builder will be responsible for finding their own 1/8”, 1/4”, and 3/8” plywood, nylon cord (for hanging the weight and chimes), and brass pulleys (which can simply be drilled out of sliding screen door tension rollers found at many hardware stores like Home Depot).

For everything else (fasteners, brass tubes, aluminum tubes, steel rods, nuts, washers, etc.) I’ve included McMaster Carr part numbers. Just go to and type in the numbers listed in the plans :)

The plans will also include a full list of required and recommended tools, so you shouldn’t ever get to a point where you unexpectedly need something that you don’t have.

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3382 days

#9 posted 01-15-2013 11:53 PM

Sounds perfect – looking forward to publication!

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Derek Hugger

41 posts in 2197 days

#10 posted 01-23-2013 03:00 AM

For those interested, I created a project page for Kinestrata:

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3542 days

#11 posted 01-24-2013 03:30 AM

this is truly amazing, so are you a mechanical engineer or what..i would enjoy watching this for quite some have created a amazing machine..would it work with weighted chocolate m&m’s…:)...i know im adding a real purpose for this…lol…..well it would be yummy…right.

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

View runswithscissors's profile


2928 posts in 2264 days

#12 posted 01-24-2013 05:30 AM

That is so cool! I love stuff like that. Congratulations on a superb gadget.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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