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Rube Goldberg Beer Opener

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Hi guys.
This is a non-blade post, but I know this group and I'm sure you won't mind.
My daughter who is in 8th grade (14 years old) has a very cool science project: Build a Rube Goldberg machine. 
Even if you have not heard that name, you know these machines.  They are in movies and TV shows everywhere.  The basic idea is to build a machine to perform a simple task (like turning on a light switch) using as many steps as possible. 
In this particular assignment Devan (my daughter) is to build a machine that in no less than 10 steps accomplishes a simple task.  So (perhaps somewhat influenced by her father), we are building a device that opens a bottle of beer.
I'm loving this project.  I'm teaching my kid about levers, pulleys, axels, springs, etc., but also how to weld, solder, cut, file, sand, etc. 
We have 3 weeks to make this happen.  I'm pretty sure that we're going to overshoot the mark.  Most of the other kids are using tape, glue, cardboard and string.  We're welding, soldering, bolting and forging this thing! 
So, here are a couple of videos of the final step (#10).  A beer bottle is clamped by a wood workers clamp, with a counter balanced bottle opener pre-positioned on the cap.  A spring-loaded rubber mallet is held in place by a wedge that when pulled out, releases the hammer.
We have 9 additional steps to build which will cascade and finally trigger this final step.  It will involve pulleys, levers, axels, wedges, ball bearings, water running in channels, ball bearings displacing water, etc.  We will be using copper pipe, gears, and bronze metal paint to give the final design a steampunk feel.  If we have enough time we may even include some useless lights and steam engine sound generators, but I have to speak to her science teacher to see if such aesthetic elements would detract from her grade.
The first test was a failure. Too strong on the spring tension.  This is what science is all about, of course: experiment, observe, test, re-design, repeat.
Here are a few videos of the prototype final step and the eventual first successful test (bonus, I got to drink the successfully opened beer!).

Sorry the embedded videos are so small. Click the little "Youtube" link on the to go to Youtube and then you can expand them.

Okay, we may have had too strong a spring on this test.


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Dave - you have a wonderful mind. Brilliant and silly - my favorite combination.

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Come to Kalamazoo! Get Bell's with me!

I love Nate's work... and have nothing but respect, but the man is offering you swill! :P


Founders is good! and this machine you built is sweet!

I love following your blade and non-blade posts. You keep the spirit of blacksmithing alive by inventing really cool things. Like that bellows powered tobacco pipe.


Please do more!


Edited by grpaavola
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Of course here in TN you'd get arrested for bringing beer near a school, but it should work on non-alcoholic stuff too. ;)


That's what I was thinking, but I won't tell them it fits bottles with two different types of things inside if you don't :lol: Love the creativity in the project, and kudos to you for bringing your daughter into the world of practical skills! A massive amount of dad points to you, sir!

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Thanks guys. And yes . . . we will be opening soda pop bottles at the school. But! When it comes home, it will be installed on the patio and anyone who wants a beer will have to use the device.


More soon.





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Awesome Dave.


Reminds me of this:


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  • 2 weeks later...

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