Alex and David meet while participating on the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers  Rube Goldberg team, typically shortened to PSPE Rube Goldberg. Through the experience of participating on these teams they developed an interest in making these types of machines and since have had the opportunity to build professionally.

Ball Run Style Machine for Children’s Hospital

From a previous contact we got asked about doing a ball run style machine for a children’s hospital. The client had some conceptual drawings of what they wanted and wanted a prototype made and delivered for their review within 6 weeks…oh my. We took the project and had the designs ready for review within a few weeks. While the designs were being reviewed we began prepping for the many late nights we’d spend at the shop rushing to get the prototype built and delivered before the deadline, mainly stocking up on frozen pizza. Fortunately the client had other things pop up and delayed giving us some breathing room to build the prototype, needless to say we went ahead and ate the frozen pizza.

In addition to being entertaining the designers felt it was necessary that the machine be easy to use given that it would be used by sick children. The designers wanted 3 points of interaction. One being a hand wheel that would power the elevators and bring the balls from the bottom to the top. The other two being levers that would interact with the balls as they moved down the tracks. The points of interaction had to be low enough force that a sick kid could use them and yet sturdy enough to withstand the sick kids teenage sibling who would put it through its paces. To prevent abuse overloads mechanisms were built in so if more then the necessary force was applied the point of interaction would disengage protecting the internal mechanisms from damage.

At this time we can’t put pictures online as the machine has yet to be installed but we can’t wait for that time to come!

Machines for ‘The Sponge Bob Musical’

Worked with the David Zinn, Scenic Designer for ‘The Sponge Bob Musical’ , to design 2 chain reaction style machines to meet his vision of their appearance and what they should accomplish during the show. After panning out the details of the design we worked with Prop-N-Spoon at their New Jersey shop to fabricate and test the machines prior to the delivery and installation at the Oriental Theatre. We even got to go work in the theater for 4 days to get the machines working and see behind the scenes! Chain reaction machines are finicky and don’t go back together well, especially after travelling a few hundred miles…. The show runs through July 10, 2016 at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago

The objective of the house right machine is to launch a large ball (think exercise ball) onto stage. Noteable features are the rotating basketball goal, musical teeter tooters, large accordion arm, and bike kicker. The bike kicker was an exciting module to build as the gears are made from wood and due to the counter balanced weights results in the bike oscillating about a point that looks off center.

The objective of the house left machine is to launch multiple smaller balls onto stage. The machine starts with a hard plastic ball that runs through sections of track. As the ball rolls through the track it activates a set of flags that pop up, hits a set of drums and cymbals that make the ba-dum-tss sound, drops into a helical spiral, and slams into the end of the track pushing out a flag. Once the hard ball has run through the track the launcher module is activated. A rotating wheel picks up what are basically dodge balls one at a time by a rotating wheel and dropped into a chute that rolls them into a ball shooter (think base ball pitching machine) which shoots them onto stage at the frightened citizens of Bikini Bottom.