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Thread: Multi-Mode, Rubber Band-Powered ... Toy

  1. #1
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    Multi-Mode, Rubber Band-Powered ... Toy

    I thought I would give a little background, and some additional information on my recent Toy Swap entry.

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    An 8-year-old neighbor kid recently showed me a book with about a dozen small Lego projects. The book had a kind of "blister pack" attached at the bottom, containing the Lego parts needed to make all of the projects. He proudly flipped through the book, showing me the projects he had made so far (just about ALL of them).

    One page showed a sophisticated plastic version of something I recognized from my childhood ... a simple toy made from a wooden spool, a couple matchsticks, a piece of candle wax or soap, and a rubber band. Here is the version from the old World Book / Childcraft Make and Do book that we had growing up:



    Here's a modified version that I whipped up with my niece a couple weeks ago. We were going for speed rather than the slow-motion, hill-climbing "tractor" action that is usually mentioned in "How To" articles. Note the thin sheet of clear plastic between the bead and the spool...






    While I wasn't watching, someone (my Dad, maybe?) put a knot in the rubber band, which actually helped it run better. I'm thinking that it kept the twisted part of the band away from the edge of the hole, which reduced friction:




    Here is another variation (among MANY) that I found online - from page 181 of the Nov 1959 issue of Popular Mechanics:




    +=============+
    | ANYWAY...!! |
    +=============+

    All of this got me thinking. An idea for a "multi-mode" version of the toy popped into my head, and I planned to work one up for the neighbor kid. Before that happened, I signed up for the 2011 Toy Swap ... so an FWW member got the first version instead. After approximately 20 shop hours (including major mistakes and at least one total restart) I came up with this:



    I call it a "Multi-Mode, Rubber Band-Powered Roller". (It's not really a "tank" or "tractor" ... although with some redesign it probably could be.) There are currently two different ways to configure it:

    "Single Mode" ...




    ... and "Dual Mode".
    Note the wide blue rubber bands for providing traction. They were salvaged from broccoli stalks, as purchased at the grocery store. They can/should be used in "Single Mode" too ... not sure why I took them off.



    The key to the two modes is the method of anchoring the "propulsion" rubber band(s):




    To set up either mode, you have to pop off the end caps. They're in there pretty tight, and they're pretty smooth, so I chiseled out a couple of "screwdriver insert points":






    "Single Mode" uses a metal screw on one end instead of a thumb tack or matchstick:




    I mounted the screw on the lathe and used a file to turn away the threads in the center, so it wouldn't cut the rubber band:





    "Dual Mode" uses a center pin to provide driving torque from both ends (at the expense of a shorter run time). You could use a single, long rubber band if you have one. I used two overlapping bands instead. Either way, the pin has to go through the "hole" in the rubber band(s).



    The center pin arrangement was one of the trickier subsystems to figure out. Why didn't I just use another screw? Well, I reasoned that the "user" would need a better (more open) view when trying to situate the rubber band(s) around the center pin. Maybe the removable end caps make that unnecessary; I don't know. Anyway, I:
    • Drilled and tapped the large block while it was still square-sided
    • Turned a "bolt blank" on the lathe (basically a two-diameter dowel)
    • Used a threading die box from Beall to put threads on the smaller diameter
    • Turned away some of the bulk in the middle of the "bolt"
    • Mounted the "bolt" tightly in the block and turned the ends flush as I rounded out the block
    • Used a Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel to make a slot on one end of the "bolt", so it can be tightened/loosened with a flathead screwdriver

    When I turned away too much of the "bolt" threading to work with the first block I made, I opted to start over with a second block rather than make another center pin.


    I made a "band puller" from a piece of 12-gauge ground wire, but just about anything will work:




    The body and the long "rolling pin" of this prototype are made of purpleheart, and the center pin is made of hickory. For the end caps and "legs" I used a new-to-me wood:



    I ran out of time before I could put a finish on the toy, so you get to imagine the finish of your choice!

    Now, to salvage the original block and make a copy for that neighbor kid....
    Last edited by Kerry Burton; 08-04-2011 at 09:27 PM.

  2. #2
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    Kerry,

    Thanks for the fantastic tutorial here. I love that the center 'bolt' is made of wood. Just makes the whole thing that much cooler!
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  3. #3
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    Thanks for sharing Kerry. That is just to cool.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thatís when you return from work one day
    and say, ďHi, Honey, Iím home Ė forever.Ē

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  4. #4
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    Well done, Kerry. Cool toy, and a fine write-up.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  5. #5
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    Nice work Kerry. Might make a good tutorial
    If you don't take pride in your work, life get's pretty boring.

    Rule of thumb is if you donít know what tool to buy next, then you probably donít need it yet.

  6. #6
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    Kerry, I recognize that toy!!!!!!!
    I honestly had never seen one before in my life and had no idea what it did or was for. I can see races and pulls (little weight sleds) as a way to grade them for my students. I again greatly appreciate the toy, this tutorial and the great idea for a project for my students.
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

  7. #7
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    Wow! Did you ever bring back memories.

    I thought the match stick kind were great. Never in my wildest dreams could I have concieved of your "Rolls-Royce" of spool vehicles.

    What a wonderful, fun, thread!!!

    Thanks and Enjoy,
    Jim
    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.
    VOTING MEMBER

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Shively View Post
    I can see races and pulls (little weight sleds) as a way to grade them for my students. I again greatly appreciate the toy, this tutorial and the great idea for a project for my students.
    Sounds like fun! I look forward to seeing the variations, improvements, and ... wacky paint jobs? ... your students come up with. I can imagine some entrepreneur in the corner of the shop, selling "upgrades" like:
    • thicker rubber bands
    • heftier "single mode" screws
    • graphite lubricant for the friction points
    • glycerin for the rubber bands
    • etc




    Quote Originally Posted by Jim C Bradley View Post
    Never in my wildest dreams could I have concieved of your "Rolls-Royce" of spool vehicles.
    "Rolls-Royce" eh? To quote Vizzini from The Princess Bride ... "Just wait till I get going!"

    Actually, I don't see myself making a lot of these; this first one might be as fancy as they get.

  9. #9
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    OK Kerry, tell the truth: This is you (a few years ago) in the illustration, right?



    I can see the resemblance in your avatar photo.

    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  10. #10
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    Naw ... I wasn't born till almost 3 years later. My oldest brother was around, but only about 8 months old when the mag came out.

    I guess if you've seen one kid, you've seen 'em all?

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