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Rube-Goldberg Machine

  1. Mar 23, 2006 #1
    Hey Guys,
    For my physics class I have to build a Rube-Goldberg machine. I'm really stuck in making the machine and was wondering if anyone could help me. I don't know where this post is suppossed to go, so I figured it would be most appropriate in the Engineering topics.

    Thanks a lot Guys
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 23, 2006 #2


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    What do you need help with? Do you understand the concept behind the RG machines? Be a bit more specific and we can help.
  4. Mar 23, 2006 #3


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    I believe that the first rule of designing an RG machine is to throw practicality out the nearest window. Think of the silliest way to make something happen (within physical and financial possibility), and then cascade the concept to a series of cause/effect relationships. If you can get your mitts on some of his cartoons from the library or somewhere, it should give you some wild ideas. If not, try to obtain a copy of "The Incredible Machine" computer game and play around with it. That's what it's based upon.

    PS: Don't forget to include birds and teakettles in the design, no matter what it's supposed to do; they're 'must have' items. :biggrin:
  5. Mar 25, 2006 #4
    Here are my objectives:
    Fill a beaker with water (the hardest I would say, especially considering the lack of materials)
    Put out a candle (easiest IMO, we can use a fan or what not)
    Turn a page in a book (we can use a fan here too, but it is the 2nd hardest task.)

    BTW, what cartoons may help with building this machine?

    I can't figure out where to start, I need a minimum of 10 steps so I understand i need a chain of events, but just can't derive where to start from.
  6. Mar 25, 2006 #5


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  7. Mar 25, 2006 #6


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    Ah, I worried you were being expected to make one that would actually work!

    I think it's better to work backward. First figure out a mechanism (A) for putting out the fire. Then, find some clever method (B) that can be used to start (A). Next, find a (C) that triggers (B). And so forth.
  8. Mar 30, 2006 #7
    Don't forget the bowling ball.
  9. Mar 30, 2006 #8


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    Typically, the 'Rube Goldberg' machines that are dealt with in Physics class are all about 'basic machines':

    3 types of lever
    Inclined planes

    (For whatever reason, teachers like to pretend that cranks and screws are different, but they're really not.)

    Generally, the tricky part is going to be figuring out how to make the chain reaction work - that is, triggering the individual steps.

    I think we're looking at something more like the famous Mazda television add were one thing keeps knocking into another rather than an actual Rube Goldberg cartoon. (IIRC the add took 50 takes.)
  10. Aug 30, 2007 #9
    no it was a honda advert with all the cogs and fans and windows etc look: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6006084025483872237

    pfft, mazda?! their advertising campaign is terrible. they spend more money on it than making the cars, and its just crap. not to mention the quality and reliability of their cars.
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