Motorised Marble Machine

by Alzibiff, published

Motorised Marble Machine by Alzibiff Jun 6, 2013

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Having built the Printable Marble Machine #1 which is hand operated, I wanted to add a motor ..... which led to the redesign of quite a number of parts.
The motor which I settled on is a Pololu 298:1 Micro Metal Gearmotor which attaches onto my plastic mount using the Pololu Micro Metal Gearmotor Bracket. This motor runs off 5V and rotates at 45rpm - just about as fast as I think the design will cope with. It is powered using a 5V DC mains power supply which came with a mobile phone - I replaced the original power connector on the power supply as I wanted to use a 2.1mm DC power jack plug and socket set.

I have uploaded my rather poor video attempt here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOaXsGhuKLQ

Thanks also go to gzumwalt - he has made some cracking motorised models which motivated me to have a go at this one.


As well as the original M3 screw set - 25mm screw, two washers and a nyloc nut, you will need the following:
Pololu 298:1 Micro Metal Gearmotor
Pololu Micro Metal Gearmotor Bracket
2.1mm DC Jack socket
2.1mm DC Jack plug
5V DC power supply (I used one from an old LG mobile phone)
M3 nut and M3 grub screw for the sprocket gear.
Heatshrink tubing - always handy!

The bracket comes with screws and nuts which enable it to be fixed to the motor mount - attaching the motor and bracket to the motor mount should be done before you slot this sub-assembly into the base.

Print each of the parts which I have uploaded. Four of them are the same as the thing uploaded by JasonM621 : the spiral chute, chute brace, chute guide and the Gear_Lift. The other files are the ones which I have redesigned to accommodate the motor. (Or in the case of the entrance chute, to improve the way in which the ball bearings are captured and to prevent them from jumping out onto the floor).

Careful inspection of the photographs and videos here and those provided by JasonM621 should be all you need to figure out the assembly but things to watch out for include making sure you have the Gear_Lift part facing the right way - the side which lay against the print bed should be facing towards the inside of the machine otherwise the tilt of the holes will be going the wrong way.

Be careful when wiring the power supply and make sure that you match the +ve and -ve wires to the plug and socket. Some testing will need to be carried out to ensure the right polarity to rotate the sprocket gear in the right direction.

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Spiral fused together in most ot the spiral, tried twice any suggestions. Thanks

Wonderful thank you

Nice kit - but you should give credit to the original design at solarbot: https://solarbotics.com/product/kmms/?gclid=CPrY497w-s8CFQWLaQod0iQOSA

(apologies if you did so in the files -- I didn't download them)

Thought the same thing. Should give credit on page and in the files. Nice job though, thanks for the files.

I'm going to print a large scaled up version to max my print bed size. I'll see how it turns out! :)

Don't forget to make a video .... one better than mine!
Looking forward to seeing it - what size are you hoping to reach?


Based on my quick look, 189% scale is the max I can do with my print bed size. I'm actually going to hold off until I get some more wood filament, hopefully soon! :) I love the wood filament!!

I printed the spiral and there is hardly any rim around the edge. Would seem like the ball would slide right off.

Anyone have problems removing the spiral from the print bed, and have it actually BEING a spiral that comes apart? Every time I do it, it seems to just be a solid mass that doesn't separate, and when removed from the bed, it cools too fast and breaks if I try to undo it. Any suggestions?

Nevermind. I turned off the heated bed. :0/


how did you add the youtube video to your thing ?

Upload to YouTube (outside of Thingiverse), make sure that your uploaded video is available for public view - the default setting I think - copy the link and then paste it into the description. It then appears by Thingiverse magic into the gallery.

ah cool thx. that's real magic ;)

Nice! Now you could print the balls too ;)

Very nice! Mine is just waiting for a motor...

Inspirational awesomeness!

thanks for this. im glad i waited to order the motor

Excellent work Alzibiff! Guess I better warm up the printer again.

What diameter "marbles" are suitable for use in this machine?

I used 11mm ball bearings. The US/imperial equivalent is 7/16". I am also led to believe that standard pachinko balls work too although I am not too sure what these are!

It's a gambling game found in Japan . The player shoots the metal balls with a lever and the ball falls down and hits pins causing the balls to move in unpredictable directions. If it ends up in a special slot you win. It makes a lot of noise in a palor with 50 machines. And everybody smokes.

Thanks. Great design !! Motor is on order (looks like I can print the Motor Mount from here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:50095)http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... and printer is warming up :-) !

Micro metal gear motor housing

EricW - I cannot follow your link - just goes to a '404' page.

the closing bracket somehow was added to the link. This one should work now: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:50095http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

Micro metal gear motor housing

Awesome!! Any way we could get a full plate file?

Plates added although it is relatively easy to make up your own using applications such as Slic3r which can export STL files. The plates will easily fit on a 200mm x 200mm bed and have been named to indicate the colours used in my machine.

very nice, dont have any motors like that, but I have plenty of servos, might mod one for continuous rotation and give it a try.

The Pololu motor is certainly not cheap but the size of it as well as its other specs made it an ideal candidate for this application. I have since read about modifying cheap servo motors here http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:25245http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... and have one on order to try things out for future projects.

Alternative Energy Windmill - Battery Powered

Looking at the spec of the motor it should run off USB

Yes it does - I made a cable up for that very purpose - a nice (if rather noisy) office desktop toy!

Definitely should be featured!

Thingiverse needs more operational machines like this. I vote it should be featured.