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The Energy Machine

72″h X 72″w X 72″d – FOUR tracks – Helical lift

The Energy Machine

This huge rolling ball sculpture was built for a science center in Denmark in 2014. The large, angled helical lift is hand powered by you, the patron of the science center. Twist the handle and it rotates the lift bringing the ball up to the top for some awesome rolling ball sculpture action. Named “The Energy Machine” this RBS had as many elements as I could build to exhibit and show off different physics principles. The challenge with a hand-powered RBS is that you cannot control the number of balls in play – so the elements have to be created in such a way that they can handle several balls at the same time.

Energy in (yours) energy out (spent gravity). This huge structure was 6ft high X 6ft wide X 6ft tall and had outriggers in place for the science center to add glass or Plexiglas once it had been put in its exhibit location. This one was a great build. It’s very satisfying to have a large amount of room to work with.

The most challenging part of this build was the hand powered helical lift system. The gears and bearings were not easy to machine and install. The gear ratio for the lift was 5:1 where you had to twist the handle 5 times to turn the lift 1 revolution. This kept the number of balls on the sculpture to a minimum. The ball used on this RBS are 1-1/2″ miniature billiard balls.

100% stainless steel, TIG welded.

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