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Rube Goldberg Machine Design Ideas

    Step Progression

    • Pulleys can provide relocation of physical force.Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

      Each step of a Rube Goldberg machine progresses to the next step in Alphabetical order. The first movement (A) takes some action on (B) which affects (C), and so on until the task is complete. Variables are completely ignored, and the plan can even be reliant on mechanical malfunctions, such as a car overheating and boiling over. Pulleys are often part of the designs and transfer motion of a string tied to another apparatus.

    Action

    • A mouse opening a baited gift box could initiate design actions.BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

      Initial movement of the machine is sometimes provided by the subject the machine is meant to act upon. A mouse wandering onto a lever or a burglar opening a window can be the movement of step (A) and begin the progression to the remaining movements that catch the mouse or detain the criminal. Cooperative behavior of the subject is assumed by the design, as most intended subjects remain stationary while the machine carries out the farcical task.

    Parts

    • Escaping steam from a teapot can be a driving force.Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

      Household items and their actions are often employed in preposterous manners. The movement of a kitchen timer dial or a doorknob will be transferred to a steam iron or oven burner to facilitate further motion. Simple physical effort can advance progression as well. A ball rolling down a ramp can impact a wheeled device like a roller skate and propel it to the next target. The comic nature of the design incorporates laughable multitudes of machinations.

    Simple Tasks

    • The charming absurdity of Rube Goldberg designs is the contrast of the task simplicity to the ridiculous lengths outlined for its achievement. An alarm clock or a letter opener is a simple device in real life, but could be automated in a complicated, comical way that affords amusement and possibly some insight into human nature. Designs meant to function should not include unreliable variables such as wildlife or wind direction and velocity. Functional designs may need to have regard for personal safety and portability in classroom or laboratory settings.

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