The Sisyphean ball race robot works mercifully, magnetically

Ball races and marble runs are not fun? Wouldn’t they be more enjoyable if you didn’t have to go up the stairs every time, as it were, and reset the thing? [Johannes] Sisyphus wrote to tell us about a tiny robot, including setting up a ball bearing in a simple but fun course, collecting it from the end, and airlifting it back to the beginning of the track.

[Johannes] This ‘bot’ is designed to test the small resin printing power as well as the longevity of some of Ali’s tiny linear actuators that may or may not be available at a moment’s notice. It was a matter of seeing how these little guys work when connected directly to an Arduino or other microcontroller instead of going to a safe route with some kind of motorist.

Some things worked well, such as a C-clip that holds the axes together and uses a quick pulse to release the magnetically attached ball from the gripper. Other aspects did not work so well. Tiny resin parts do not respond well to force, to start. And then the actuators have themselves. The connections are fragile and the motors are weak, but they vary greatly in piece quality, hence YMMV. Some lose steps, and others occasionally take over. But you don’t know any of the interesting movements captured in the video below. Although it seems to be automatic, the bot is under remote control due to motor problems.

Don’t run the ball? Other Sisyphean works are found, such as sand dunes in the name of meditation.

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