i've heard of marble madness but
November 16, 2023 9:44 AM   Subscribe

Ivan Miranda decides to use a lot of 3D printing and a lot of hand tooling to, both figuratively and literally, roll his own seven-segment digital clock: Building a Marble Clock - part 1 and part 2.
posted by cortex (12 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I remember noticing that it took 2-ish minutes for the marbles to update the 1 minute at the end of part 2 when he posted it, I'm curious how he'll manage that. I thought his marble selection process was surprisingly robust, though.

Also note that both links are part 1 in the post, part 2 is the most recent video on Ivan's youtube profile page if you go looking.
posted by Kyol at 9:59 AM on November 16

Such a cute design. I can't see any reason why that it needs to be limited to a 7 segment font, or even to a fixed-width font, or even to a font, really. Any 31x13 pixel image should be just as easily achievable. He should get his subscribers to send him at least 1440 unique hand-made images, one for every minute of the day.

If the display takes more than a minute to update, even if the update time is wildly variable, it's no biggie. As long as the controller knows what time it is, it can just skip frames as needed.
posted by flabdablet at 10:59 AM on November 16

Having seen Part 1 the other day, I'm very frustrated that Part 2 doesn't appear to include time-lapse video of the clock running for like an hour. I understand that "frames" might need to be skipped, but I want to see it GO.
posted by The Tensor at 11:07 AM on November 16

Warning (spoiler?): he doesn't actually successfully finish the project by the end of part 2.
posted by eamondaly at 11:15 AM on November 16 [2 favorites]

Right, it's really a bitmap display that happens to be showing a clock. And for different images you're going to get wildly different refresh performance. I wonder what the worst-case expected performance image is?
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 12:20 PM on November 16

It's a clever design, but it seems like it would've made a lot more sense to have a vertical stack of marbles instead of a horizontal one, and to have four separate solenoid-controlled gates under the four individual digits. That way, it would only need to refresh a quarter of the display every minute, and it would have 10 minutes or more for preparing multidigit refreshes when they're necessary.
posted by jackbishop at 12:40 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]

Warning (spoiler?): he doesn't build the clock out of marble🏛️. Instead he builds it using marbles ⚫⚫⚫⚪⚫⚪.
posted by rubatan at 12:41 PM on November 16

@jackbishop, yeah... I think there are a lot of other (more) clever, (more) functional designs. I thought about {insert several ideas about using marbles as binary operators, rolling in from other directions, preloading numbers, etc} but then I realized you loose what its all about: THE NOVELTY OF ALL THE ROLLING!

Marble League!
(which reminds me of this lovely post of just letting things race)
posted by rubatan at 12:57 PM on November 16

JIC, those of you interested in marble machines may wish to check out the ongoing series of videos of Wintergatan's 3rd attempt at making a complicated music-playing marble machine.
posted by user92371 at 1:41 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]

Erm, if he starts getting close to a wealthy woman in odd clothing whose feet don't always touch the ground... you probably want to stock up on chocolate bonbons.

(FanFare thread.)
posted by humbug at 3:54 PM on November 16

My expectations were dashed. I read "marble" to mean stone, and was looking forward to something like this, only stonier. Italian Reniassance, or even Flintstones Still, hihg marks for what it is, or will be, even if I'm old fashioned enough to be unhappy with the presense of electronics.
posted by BWA at 6:54 AM on November 17

Someone with better google skills and/or memory:

What was the 70s toy I had in the US that had a maybe 20x20 "display" that used small yellow balls (maybe not yellow). I believe the mechanic was there were cards with maybe math questions on them and you inserted the card in the top and the display would show the answer. I could be completely wrong on how the toy actually worked, but the I'm pretty sure I'm remembering the "display" correctly. I think the housing was red? I also think you removed the cards and tilted the thing back to reset the display? So many crazy mechanical toys then.

After seeing these videos I would love to take one of those toys apart.
posted by sevenless at 1:29 PM on November 17

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