Marble Machine Xt - Design Research Overview


To Design a reliable, practical, and world-tour-ready Marble Machine Xt, the design knowledge from past machines needs to be combined with new research in these areas:
 
Design Simplification
Musical Timing
Acoustic Quality - Silent Mechanics
Acoustic Quality - Well sounding Instruments
Friction / Power Consumption
Reliable Marble Handling
Vibrations/Unwanted Movement
Space Distribution
Design For Manufacturing
 
Design Simplification
  1. Reduce the number of lifting methods from three to one
  2. Remove the demagnetizer wheel.
  3. Remove fish stair
  4. Remove divide by four.
  5. Reuse lifting gear for recycling marble loop
  6. Remove conveyor belt
  7. Reduce the number of timing belts from five to two
  8. Remove planet gears
  9. Reduce the max height to where marbles are lifted
  10. Simplify and stabilize marble catching (pleeeeaseeee)
  11. Simplify and stabilize marble lanes (pleeeeeaseeee)
  12. Use Gonzos Y-Splits to reduce the number of holes in the marble divider by half. (Or use them in succession to reduce the holes by more. Perhaps a large web of y splits would do all marble division needed, with a few single inputs.)
 
Musical Timing Research Overview
  1. Flywheel Accuracy, the Power input
  2. Power transmission Accuracy, From Flywheel to Programming wheel
  3. Programming Wheel Accuracy, the precision of pin placements
  4. Linkage accuracy, the Consistency of mechanical Links from Programming wheel to dropper
  5. Marble Drop Accuracy, the consistency of fall time duration from release to hit
  6. Latency Accuracy in different BPM, timing clutch
The Six areas are listed in the flow of mechanical actions, starting with power input, ending with marble drop and adding the latency issue on top.
 
We will use the research to guide design decisions and improve the Musical Tightness of the Marble Machine Xt.
 
Acoustic Quality - Silent Mechanics
  1. Silent Power Train (Helical plywood Gears, silent timing belts)
  2. Silent Marble Handling (Lifting, Division, Gates, Drops, Lanes, Catching)
  3. Silent Note activation from Programming wheel
 
Acoustic Quality - Well sounding Instruments
  1. Full-Size Snare Drum with dynamic volume - 2 ghost note tracks with smaller marbles, two tracks with medium, and two tracks with maximum volume for a total of 6 marble tracks.
  2. Full-Size Acoustic Kick Drum with dynamic volume - 2 medium and two max for a total of 4 marble tracks
  3. Cyberbass programmable muting - a felt that pushes down and completely mutes the ringing of all four strings - activated from one channel of the programming wheel, allowing the machine to better-sounding bass by itself when operators hands are busy elsewhere. Bass. The Muting Function needs an activation on/off control. When ON - the felt will follow the programmed pattern. When OFF - the felt is never touching the strings, it stays in up position. This function is not replacing the Funkalizer, which is a separate sound setting.
  4. Full-Size Rhythm-Machine Hihat with large diameter beaters - The Speed of the beaters on the current MMX is too slow. We can get more volume and better sound out of the full-size Hi-Hat for the Rhythm machine by increasing this diameter. We can also look into ideas with alternate percussion sound sources, although keeping it super simple and make the best Hi-Hat Machine ever would be a fantastic accomplishment in itself.
  5. Full-Size Marble Played Hihat - let's get rid of all smurf instruments!
  6. Vibraphone correct marble size for pleasant sound - very loud ATM.

Friction / Power Consumption
  1. Removal of gears, belts, springs, and components that have added to the high need for power input on the MMX.
  2. Change the bearing type from grease filled with a slight resistance to skateboard free-rolling bearing types.
 
Reliable Marble Handling
  1. Treat marble routing with respect. Marbles act like water; they will find any weakness and exploit it.
  2. Avoid unnecessary merging causing clogs.
  3. Use figure-eight gear lift only, no magnets, deep pockets.
  4. Precision-free marble gates, designed to work with larger tolerances

Space Distribution
  1. Move programming wheel further back - create more space in front
  2. Move side gear down and back
 
Design For Manufacturing
  1. Design parts with the specific requirements from the supplier/manufacturer
  2. Keep the total amount of suppliers needed low
  3. Design entire machine digitally and prototype with physics simulations before manufacturing
  4. Design for low-cost-easy assembly
 
This overview post is a work in progress and will be updated.
I am planning to write separate blog posts for each point mentioned in this overview.
I am planning to write a similar overview blog post regarding the project management overview.