Task 1: Building a Machine Out of Locally Available Materials

Group Members:

Flynn Darko

Emmanuel Nkansah


Dr. Ayokor Korsah

Task 1 Report


Introduction & Objective

Our main task for this robotics class was to build a machine using locally available materials that would transport a ball to a box or goal area, one or more meters away. We were also required to implement in our machine four simple machines such as the lever, pulley and a wedge. We had approximately a week to complete this task. Initially, our impression of the task was one of ease. However, the implementation proved more difficult than we expected. The machines we drew and imagined reacted differently in the reality and hence required some adjustments to the blue print several times, many of them spontaneously.

Design Concept

After thinking through how we could implement this task using simple or compound machines we decided on four simple machines. This included a pulley, two inclined planes, a wedge and a lever as can be seen in figure 1.

Figure 1.  Use of four Simple machines in building our own machine

Figure 1. Use of four Simple machines in building our own machine

Subsequently, we put together the four simple machines to come up with a machine we called “Universe.” The concept features an inclined plane that will transport a ball from its place of origin onto a cup like container that is fastened to a lever placed adjacent a pulley. The job of the pulley is to apply a force to the other side of the lever in order to propel the ball into the goal area (box). The universe machine concept can be seen in figure 2.

Figure 2. Sketch of what the whole machine would look like

Figure 2. Sketch of what the whole machine would look like

Figure 3. Snapshots of Universe

Figure 3. Snapshots of Universe

Figure 3. Snapshots of Universe

Figure 4. Snapshots of Universe


The materials we used to build our machine consisted of plywood board, stone, plastic bottles, paper card and nails. The lever, pulley as well as the wedge were made using the plywood provided. Furthermore, we acquired Tampico bottles from the recycle baskets on campus to enable us create the ball holder. This was not a simple process as many (almost all) of the bins contained only “voltic” water bottles which were too weak to serve as a pulley. The Tampico bottles we found were sawed at the base to obtain the cup-like ball container. Some of the difficulties we faced involved splitting the plywood due to the size of the nails being used on them. Furthermore, it was increasingly difficult to find materials on campus that fit our concept hence we were required to improvise for the plan to be implemented successfully.



As already mentioned, building this machine from locally available materials proved to be a challenging. For instance, in building a stand for the pulley we could not figure the height that it should be to give as the perfect projection of the ball placed on the lever. Upon giving it a number of tests we had to change the stand to a much smaller one to get the desired outcome. Also, finding the right stone size and weight to propel the lever proved difficult. However, our machine worked as we desired though we could have adjusted the sizes of our materials for more accuracy in getting the ball into the goal area.



Building our machine proved educative and challenging in that it thought as ways we could reuse waste materials to build useful machines and how that requires creativity and careful thought. It also gave us an amazing foretaste of the robotics course. The experience put our creativity side to the test hence proved interesting. However, our inexperience in carpentry led to time overhead and a longer building process. Nonetheless, we look forward to doing more hands on work in this course.


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