Task 1 – Simple machine

Report for Robotic Class Task One on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 by Daniel Botchway and Keith Arthur


The requirements of this first task were to design and build a complete machine. This machine was to be made up several simple machines built out of locally available materials that would move a ball from a resting place to a goal area that was at least 1 meter away. The task had a 12-day timeline from start to its completion and final demonstration of the inventions.  The overall aim of this project was to get the students of the robotics class to explore the engineering aspect of the class while having a direct hands-on experience with the building of mechanical devices.

Design Concept

Coming from a computer science point of view, we took an object-orient approach to the designing of the machine. This meant we developed a concept of the machine by indentifying and defining the entire machine into key parts that had specific roles. The process of modularization of the machine allowed us to carefully consider what we needed and what machine would be suitable in achieving that goal.


We divided the machine into four simple modules. These are (i) lift module (ii) drop module (iii) cut module and (iv) launch module.


This is the lift model which consists of the domino effect which pushes the ball into the tray to be lifted by the help of the pulley, which has a load connected to it to pull the ball upwards to transport it to the next module. 


This is the drop module, which receives the ball after it has been lifted up by the pulley system. The ball is then transported on the incline plane to the next model which consists of a catapult – cut model.


This is the cut model which receives the ball from the drop model. A branch is used as the catapult system which is tied to create the tensional force for displacing the ball into its destination. The fire below the rope is used to release the branch to succeed with the catapulting.


Finally, the launch model is initiated as the branch is released and then reaches for its destination – the box.


The idea was very unique and quite different from our fellow mates but we realized that visualization is not the same as seeing your idea being implemented physically. We had a tough time with every part of the model because we encountered physical laws like gravity and force that would not let us go free without obeying them. We had to adjust some parts of each model like the lift model. Instead of allowing the dominos to push the load responsible for lifting the tray with the ball in it, we caused water to drip into an empty container to lift the ball up . Furthermore, we learnt how to saw wood and hammer nails into wood.


It was a tiring task because we spent hours on figuring how to build a machine that will throw a ball into a box, 1 meter away. However, we acknowledged engineers, architects and people who build structures because it is not as easy to build what you see on paper or the ideas you have generated.



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