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Automated K'nex Ball Machine - Preview

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Published on Feb 10, 2012

This is a preview of my upcoming K'nex ball machine, featuring a giant computer-controlled gantry crane. The machine currently uses over 20,000 pieces, and is by no means finished. So far there are 3 lifts, 6 motors and 10 paths, with a 4th lift which goes floor-to-ceiling under construction. The size of this machine now depends solely on whether or not I run out of pieces during construction, though I have at least 8 additional paths planned. The machine should be finished late this spring or early this summer.

New features of this machine include:

- A re-designed gantry with an adaptive AI program which is capable of automatically analyzing and correcting mechanical failures.

- A new loading system for the crane which allows it to carry up to 5 balls at once, as needed.

- An original element of my own design, the articulated double ball arm, which took nearly a week to perfect.

- A swinging path across my closet door which prevents it from being obstructed

- Eight new paths in total, with an emphasis on long, winding tracks which take a very long time to traverse, rather than fast downward tracks.

Future plans:

- A 7 foot tall ball lift is currently under construction, which will be the source of as many as 8 new paths, depending on pieces.

- Multiple termination points for the gantry are planned, with a random number generator to select between them, making it the first computer-controlled path switcher.

- As a tribute to the original K'nex Big Ball Factory, the greatest set ever made (in my opinion), I plan to include all of the elements from that machine in the construction of this one.

- Computerized lighting displays are planned for certain areas of the machine. I have not decided whether or not they will react to the presence of a ball.

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