Well this particular feature of the current automata project has been a labour of love that has seemed to last an eternity. Maybe I will scare myself and add up all the number of pieces it took to slap together the three marble runs for the Casserole Factory! There are two egg runs and one tomato run. I had spent a lot of time putting together the front side but a lot of this week went into the backside. Making marble pumps and runs on the backside. Here is a photo of the rear as it stands today.
Across the bottom of the photo are three marble pumps. You can see the three channels that collect marbles from the front and direct them into the pumps on the backside. Right now the marble colours are mixed up, but I will fix that later. By articulating the levers on the pump the marble inside is lifted and another rolls in below it. A pall of the other end holds the column of marbles up. The levers and palls are tensioned by rubber bands but I will likely upgrade them to springs for a longer life.
The marbles rise up inside the grey tubes, pieces of flexible plastic conduit that has an inside diameter that suits the marbles perfectly. Each pump lifts the marble about a foot. The left one spits the red marbles out into the basket on the top and spill into the channel and head off into the factory. The other two spill the marbles into channels that lead them to rollout below each chicken nest box on the front.
The pumps will have a rotary cam that will operate the lever up and down to pump the marbles. I want to make them all operate at different speeds so the marble action looks randomly generated front the front. The will likely each pump around 3 or 4 marbles per minute. Hopefully when the white marbles roll out the chicken will bounce as if they just laid it.
Of course there is still a lot to do, bakers up on the top deck, gears to drive the corn shucker, a meat conveyor, maybe an employee lunch room, and lots of links!
What I did learn that marbles are sold by nominal size, but they are not actually the same size. Some were binding in a couple of spots I made a little tight and I had to make some post build adjustments. The fun never stops!
Automata is a creative blend of my life interests , engineering, art and woodworking.