>I’ll never forget the first time I saw a rolling ball machine as a child. It was a simple affair, but, I played with it for the better part of a day. Over the years I have made attempts to build my own out of wood, metal, and even clay with varying success. Then I found cardboard. Using Recycled cardboard to build toys is one of my passions, and inside of and hour you can build a pretty cool rolling ball machine.
The first machine I built with my son was literally made from heavy card-stock clippings left over from another project. We creased them to make a channel and glued them together. Only 2 or 3 specialized pieces were cut.
The second example below is more structured, and took a little longer to make. We spent a couple of hours getting it right. This video shows the ball rolling off the foam base, but, there are a couple of magnets at the bottom that are meant to collect the ball bearing as it exited the ramp, and another magnet at the top of the sculpture for ball storage. I only mention this because again, imagination is the only limitation.
http://www.youtube.com/get_playerThere is no limit to what supplies might be used. String, paper towel tubes, a spare piece of pipe, a bell hung where it will ring as the ball passes. Whatever.
As to some general rules for quick construction I offer these ideas. Using a metal yard stick cut strips of card stock or cardboard for some of your channels (ramps). After you have enough strips,use the yardstick again as a guide to burnish straight down the center of the cardboard strip. Now it will be easy to fold a nice straight channel for the ball to roll down. Glue guns will be your best tool for assembly. As always; Be Careful! They are hot.
I have used towers for vertical support, or a diorama configuration. To build a diorama, simply cut the top and one face off of a box of your desired size. You can then use the walls as pivot points for your sculpture, and the base to mount tower style supports. The ball can even pierce the wall and travel out and then back in again.
Making rounded turns can be accomplished by cutting short sections of your channel and gluing them at ever increasing bends; similar to the scales of a snake or that of armor.
Holes can be put in the bottom of channels to allow the ball to fall through to the channel below.
Stops can be placed at the end of runs where the ball needs to change direction quickly.